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Caring Place looking to expand on a novel idea

By Don Fennell

Published 11:44 PDT, Wed May 29, 2019

June 13, 1994 was a special day in Richmond’s history.

At 2 p.m. that Saturday afternoon, with the usual fanfare that marks such occasions, the doors to Richmond Caring Place formally opened.

Richmond Community Services Centre Society formed in 1985, and immediately set about to raising capital to fulfill a vision of housing all the local service agencies in one building.

The concept was unique in North America, says Belinda Boyd, a past chair and board member of the Richmond Caring Place Society (RCPS) for nine years. And is has served the community well.

But since Caring Place opened in 1994, the population of Richmond has increased by 60 per cent. Boyd says the increased demands for service have also increased, along with the complexity of needs.

“The RCPS is committed to be responsive to these needs by providing adequate space to meet the service and program needs of the community,” she says.

When the RCP was first envisioned, Boyd explains, it was an innovative solution to the problem of social services being located all over the city in inappropriate, inaccessible and sometimes even unsafe space.”

“The society board needs to continue to innovate and find creative solutions to the needs for more space to accommodate social service provision to meet our growing community needs,” she says.

Currently, the board is actively working on plans to expand the Caring Place to accommodate the growth of its tenants, and the space required by other social service-providing organizations in Richmond. The board hopes to see the plans come to fruition with an anticipated expansion completed by 2022.

Since Caring Place first opened, the board maintained a vision of being recognized as operating a “superior, affordable facility for the delivery of social services by charitable groups.”

“To this day, we continue to focus on that vision and this allows us to relieve our tenants of the stresses and challenges of space management,” Boyd explains. “They can be assured their space is stable and long term, affordable, and is a well-maintained space to welcome clients. (The agencies) can focus on their core work and ensure they have the needed capacity to meet growing needs. Although shared space or co-location is happening in other parts of the world, this model remains unique. Richmond Caring Place was conceived to make a difference to the community and it continues to achieve that goal. We are a better community because of it.”

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