Family Place continues to meet needs

The executive director for the Family Place, Dawn Gutzke, was first introduced to the programs and services of the family centre five years ago when her son was in need of the Mini-Go program.
Today, she is running the Family Place which offers a wide variety of programs to families in the Weyburn and surrounding area who are in need of support or a resource centre or a place where children can come and play in a safe and stimulating environment.
Gutzke spoke to the Rotary Club recently, explaining the role of the Family Place, and what fundraisers are held to help keep the doors open.
“I started because my son was in need of the Mini-Go program. He had no speech at the age of three. I lived in Francis and drove in to Weyburn every day,” she explained, noting she started being more involved in the facility when she was told a position had opened up and she applied for it.
“It was just after Linda (Rudachyk) had left, and a lot of staff went at the same time, and then the basement flooded that year (2011) — so it was a huge transition,” she said, noting a director had come in for six months but had to leave due to family circumstances. Rudachyk was the founding executive director and ran the centre for many years until their family moved from Weyburn when Linda’s husband retired from his law firm.
The board then approached Gutzke about taking over the position as executive director, and her tenure in this position began.
“It was a huge, huge struggle. I went through that summer thinking we were going to close our doors. Funding was running out, and at that time, the Family Place was doing a lot of catering. … That fall, I was going to throw in the towel. It was too much,” said Gutzke.
In discussing this situation with her husband Darin, she said, “We both knew this was what I wanted to do, so instead of trying to fill Linda’s shoes, I decided to make it my own. Instead of catering every weekend, I found other sources of funding. This community is amazing.”
One of the best fundraisers the Family Place initiated was the Festival of Trees, which for the last few years has been hosted in the showroom of Barber Motors, and has increased in the amount of money raised, doubling it one to year to $60,000.
The Family Place holds three major fundraisers during the year, including the Festival of Trees, the community garage sale (which was just held recently, raising $16,000) and the Royal Gala Ball.
This year, instead of a gala ball, there will be a version held as the “Royal Street Fair” on Sunday, June 5, on Fourth Street in front of the facility, and it will be free of charge for all families to come and enjoy, said Gutzke.
“Today we are self-sustainable, with a quarter of it coming from grants. so we’re very lucky. I also worked hard to partner up with people so we won’t be doubling up on services,” she said, noting one of the partnerships is with Rose MacInnes of Blue Earth Environmental, located downtown.
Some of the donations of furniture and household items they receive is funneled to Blue Earth, which has two locations, and they in turn help out families in need who come to the Family Place for help.
Another partnership is with the Salvation Army and their food bank and thrift store.
Of the Family Place today, Gutzke said, “I’m really excited to offer this to the community. It blows my mind that this place even exists. There’s nothing like it in the province, and without the support of the whole community, it couldn’t run. I’m lucky to have all the support I need, with amazing staff.”

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