Devon MacKenzie/News contributor
There’s always something going on at Beacon Community Services’ (BCS) SHOAL Centre in Sidney. From fitness classes, to crafting and card games, there’s something for everyone at the community centre.
“We like to think of it as a place where you can come exercise your mind as well as your body,” explained BCS Director of Communications, Kerry Readshaw.
“You can drop in for lunch in the dining room, you can rent a meeting space, it’s really a space where people can come and just engage with the community.”
From woodworking, to lapidary and silver smithing, to bridge games and a fully equipped gym with a personal trainer, SHOAL certainly is a hub for Sidney’s population – senior and otherwise.
“We really provide programming for all stages of life through BCS,” Readshaw explained.
“From pre-natal care to end of life services and everything in between, we have it. And one of things we take pride in is that our growth is in direct response to community needs that have been identified within the Saanich Peninsula and Greater Victoria.”
Aside from the SHOAL Centre, BCS also operates other important community fixtures like Jeneece Place – a home away from home for families outside of the region seeking medical care here – StrongStart Sidney for pre-school aged children, an employment resource centre, two licensed dementia homes in Brentwood Bay and seven thrift stores throughout the Capital Regional District.
“Our mission is helping people and improving lives, and that’s what we are able to do by providing all these programs and resources for the people of Sidney and beyond,” Readshaw said.
“The SHOAL Centre is really an important fixture for Sidney’s senior population especially, because it serves as a gathering place and a place where people can come to seek assistance.”
Wellness programs offered at SHOAL (breaking for summer but back in September) are well-attended, Readshaw said, including the Better Breathers Program for those with breathing difficulties, the White Cane Club for those with vision impairments, and the Dementia Caregivers Support Group.
For something a bit more social and seasonal, the SHOAL dining room, Tides, is offering summer barbecues on the patio every Wednesday throughout July and August and a Friday night Dinner and Concert on Aug. 25 featuring Jean Bedard on guitar and vocals.
“We try and offer a nice range of activities and events and I think that’s why we have such a loyal following,” Readshaw said.
(The SHOAL Centre and BCS were finalists in the 2017 Peninsula News Review Readers’ Choice Awards, presented July 11 at Church and State Wines.)