Our history

Fifty years of service

The Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours (SIGN) is celebrating 50 years of service to the Yorkton community this year.


In 1968, Father Paul St. Pierre, Rev. Jack Jones, Rev. William Shank and the Rev. Roland Wood felt there was a need for an organization to reach the community in a way that was beyond what was possible by individual churches.


SIGN first opened its offices on May 1, 1969. To quote from one of the first SIGN newsletters that year, “SIGN hopes to produce the product called Community Unity - a community in which people care about people. So we promote co-operation between churches, service organizations and other agencies throughout the community.”


Some of the services which were originally considered included an Information and drop-in centre, psychological consultant services, a youth hostel, homemakers program and a radio program.

  

Early Funding

Yorkton churches, as well as some national religious organizations were very involved in the funding for SIGN in the early years. Since 1969, funding for SIGN programs has come from various sources including the Ministry of Social Services, Ministry of Education Early Learning, Ministry of Justice, Saskatchewan Health Authority, SGI, City of Yorkton, area service clubs and business and personal donations.


The first board

The first board of directors consisted of the following, seen in the photo above in this order in the back row from the left, then the front row from the left: Father Len Ratushniak, Bryan Smith, Mike Keaschuk, Al Porter, Rev. Ray Glen; Ernie Quine, Father Paul St. Pierre (Managing Director), Kathy Derworiz (Admin Assistant), Rev. Jack Jones, Rev. Roland Wood.


Early programs

SIGN initiated and pioneered many programs throughout the years.


Daycare

SIGN Daycare was begun by Phyllis Davidge, spouse of Elton Davidge, the first Executive Director of SIGN. Phyllis was an inspiring woman who was totally dedicated to providing quality care for children. Phyllis was instrumental in beginning the first licensed daycare in Yorkton with a parent operated board. Staff members were Mary Protz, Lil Shanks, Debbie Davis, Joan Adams and Diane Giesbrecht. Among the early board members were Cliff Schebywolok and Cec Shiskin.


Homemaker/Home Nursing Service

SIGN initiated the first comprehensive homecare service in Yorkton in the 1970s. Emma Schappert was a pioneer in the homemaking field. Emma, the founding coordinator for the SIGN Homemaking Program, was largely responsible for the success of the program. In the early years, four services were offered: Home Maintenance, Home Nursing, Homemaker and Meals on Wheels. In 1984, with the development of District Homecare Boards across the province, Homemaker and Meals on Wheels services were transferred to the District Homecare Board. In 1983, the local Rotary Club (under president John Dowie) donated a new car to the Meals on Wheels/Senior Mobility Programs. Among those involved in the early years were Olga Bymak in Home Nursing, Clint Dalshaug with the Homemaker Advisory Board, and Henry Blommaert with Meals on Wheels. Henry was an important part of senior programming at SIGN in the 1970s.


Senior Mobility Program

In the late 1970s it was determined that Yorkton seniors required an individualized transportation service which went beyond what was being offered by the local bus and taxi services. The SIGN Senior Mobility Service was initiated under the guidance of the Senior’s Advisory Committee. Mildred Baldwin played a pivotal role in securing financial support for the service.


Adolescent Group Home

In October 1978, the SIGN Adolescent Group Home was opened. The home was licensed for five adolescents when it opened. Group home parents were Bertha and Victor Mehling. The home remains open today at its Darlington Street location. Supervision is now provided by staff rather than by group home parents.


Social Integration Group Home

This home opened in 1977 as a residential facility for persons with long term mental illnesses. Initially, seven residents were housed in the facility. The facility closed in 1991, and in its place, the Independent Apartment Living program was initiated. The early staff member was Emma Bunzenmeyer.


Independent Apartment Living

SIGN pioneered a creative new approach in living arrangements for people with long term mental illnesses. When SIGN moved to the 29 Livingstone location, there were two bachelor apartments on the premises. This created an opportunity to set up long term mental health clients in a supported independent setting. This was a very new and innovative concept in the 1970s. Joanne Parchman and Liz Vossen were instrumental in setting this up.


And more


In addition to the above notable programs, the following projects were also undertaken by SIGN in earlier years:

  • Native craft operation designed to help the marketing of native craft;
  • Drop-in Centre for outpatients of Mental Health;
  • Radio talk show called SIGN Listens, in which local clergy answered questions and offered advice to callers;
  • Preschool program which served children requiring a specific school readiness program;
  • General counseling program which operated under the auspices of the Saskatchewan Psychological Association;
  • Program which provided volunteers for the delivery of meals in the Meals on Wheels Program;
  • Seniors Drop-in Centre (one of, if not the first, in Saskatchewan);
  • Central information and referral service which maintained a directory of all non-profit and service groups in the community;
  • Secretarial service provided to non-profit groups and to assist those lacking in literacy skills to complete various forms.


Executive Directors


The following have served as Executive Director of SIGN:

  • Father Paul St. Pierre, May 1, 1969
  • J. Elton Davidge, 1971 - 1980
  • Clay Serby, 1980 - 1991
  • Wink Howland, 1991 - 1994
  • Tom Seeley, 1995 - 2009
  • Richard Sevigny, 2009 - 2011
  • Andrew Sedley, 2011 - Present


Locations


The following locations have been home to SIGN:

  • Third Avenue North, 1969 - 1970
  • 41 Broadway Street West, 1970 -1978
  • 29 Livingstone Street, 1978 - 1991
  • 83 North Street (former Angus Spice School), 1991 - Present
  • 345 Broadway Street West (former Corona Motor Hotel), 2005 - Present


Operating budgets


Over the years, SIGN has raised and spent the following amounts on programs that benefit our communities:

  • 1970 - $12,940
  • 1997/98 - $1,008,590
  • 2003/04 - $1,531,581
  • 2010/11 - $3,238,620
  • 2013/14 - $4,346,135 
  • 2017/18 - $5,401,864

Over the past 50 years, SIGN has founded or operated a large number and variety of programs to meet the needs of the community.

 

1969

Counselling Services

Homemaker Service

Information and Referral Service

SIGN Listens (CJGX phone-in talk program)

Advocated for the development of kindergarten in Yorkton

1970 

Thrift shop

Leather Craft Project

Drop-in Lounge

1971

Day Care Centre

Christmas Toys & Gifts

1972

Senior Citizen’s Lounge

Community Consultations

Human Relations Training

Social Action (Crosswalk petition)

Renting space to other agencies

1973

Assisted with the creation of the Parkland Legal Assistance Society

1974

Assisting victims of the apartments fire

Meals on Wheels

Consumer Help Office

1976

Good Neighbour of the month

Senior Citizens Good Neighbour Club

1977

Social Integration Group Home

1978

Adolescent Group Home

Odd Job Squad

Yorkton House Dusters

1980

Young Canada Works Project

Support for local Alcoholism Society

1981

PECIP begins

Support for Mental Health Association

1982

Senior Mobility Program

Early Childhood Enrichment

Independent Living Project 

1983

Support for Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Community Restitution Program

1984

Parent Aide family support program

1985

Practicum Student Placement

Trustee Services

1986

Advocacy Services

Family Violence and Sexual Assault Counselling

1989

Placements for Assessment and Evaluation

1990

 J. Elton Davidge Memorial Fund

1991

Vocational Employment Program

1993

Yorkton Nursery School Co-op moved in

Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan moved in

Big Brothers & Sisters of Canada moved in

Personal Growth Workshops

1995

Personal Development/Family Life sessions

1996

Problem Gambling Counselling

Pre-employment Program for single parents

Employment Skills Program

1997

Preschool Playland

Parents Support Program

Mediation

SIGN Women’s Series

1998

Youth Outreach Project

Development Work on Community Kitchens

Youth Service Canada

The Workline

Opportunities Fund

1999

Parent Education

2000

Career Symposium

Circle Time Program

Acquired Brain Injury Program

Pre-employment Daycare

Work Links

Youth in Care

2001

Literacy Project

KidsFirst Program

Career Circuit

Early Childhood Program

2002

Emergency Stabilization Unit

Families & Schools Together

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Separation & Divorce Seminars

2003

Parent Support - Langenburg

2004

Early Childhood Families & Schools Together

A Christmas Carol

2005

Travelodge donated to SIGN

Pre Employment Program

2007

Caring Closet

2008

Before & After School Program at MC Knoll and Yorkdale

2010

Assisted flood victims by providing housing at SIGN on Broadway

2011

Life Skills Program

Family Preservation Program

2012

SIGN Early Learning Centre

2013

St. Paul’s School Before & After School Program

2014

Triple P Program

2015

Kamsack Family Resource Centre

2016

Family Support expansion - Fort Qu’Appelle area

Triple P expansion - Fort Qu’Appelle area

2017

HIV Outreach Program

2018

Housing Support Program

Walk-In Counselling Program