Family Services of Greater Vancouver CAPC Single Moms’ Group

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Gift Habeshaw

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Gift Habeshaw

The Family Services of Greater Vancouver (FSGV) Single Moms’ Group is the only similar program available in New Westminster.  There is a network of single mothers’ groups in Fraser Valley and GVRD, and this group was originally created to fill a gap in the regional provision for single moms, as there was no group at that time in New Westminster.

Originally, the group was run at the FSGV offices, but this had operational limitations.  It is now based, on Wednesday evenings from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, at Olivet Church on Queens Avenue in New Westminster, which has terrific facilities.  There are large and small rooms available, along with a dedicated childcare space with dedicated washroom and infant/toddler room.  FSGV run several programs at the Olivet Church site, and the two organizations have built up a long relationship of trust together.

We spoke with Patricia Steiner, Manager, Community Education and Development Services at FSGV, who is responsible for parenting education programs, mentorship, family programs, Neighbourhood Small Grants, and the Caring Neighbours Christmas program. 

Patricia explained that the Single Moms’ Group runs for 30 weeks a year, in 3 terms.  Summer was a gap for the moms, as the group can’t accommodate school aged children in its regular programming.  Participants in the group applied successfully for a Neighbourhood Small Grant to enable summer gatherings in a local park, inviting other families to join in.  This has been highly successful in maintaining relationships and mutual support through the summer.

The group is capped at 10 moms, so conversation sharing is easier.  For the last two years, the program has been running at full capacity, with 9 or 10 moms, and as many children.  The group is open to any single mother, and includes a great mixture of long term residents, new immigrants, young moms and older moms.  Everyone in the group mixes together and supports each other.

About three years ago, Patricia applied for the group to join the Farmers Market coupon program.  During the Farmers Market season, the group now meets once a week at the market to receive their weekly coupons.  From being a place that was felt to be intimidating, the market has come to feel like ‘their place’, a place where they are welcome and comfortable.  Participating in the Farmers Market program has expanded the social horizons of the group and significantly increased their levels of community comfort and connectedness.

FSGV also offers “Parents Connect”, a guided discussion and support group for parents, and an ESL parenting group, within their CAPC programming.

Quote from Participant, Heather:

"Past years I would avoid the market area because I couldn’t afford things my daughter would ask for. With the coupon program through the moms group, I can now purchase healthy, local farm fresh foods that I cannot afford. The program has allowed me now the affordability  to purchase a treat from one of the bakery/ice cream vendors for my daughter. Market day is always an exciting day for use. The coupon program has not only created affordability, farm fresh healthy choices and how to cook some foods but bonding time with my daughter."

Mother, Heather, and her daughter, Jasper-Lee

Mother, Heather, and her daughter, Jasper-Lee