First Board of Directors, 1969.
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.
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.
SIGN initiated and pioneered many programs throughout the years.
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.
In addition to the above notable programs, the following projects were also undertaken by SIGN in earlier years:
The following have served as Executive Director of SIGN:
The following locations have been home to SIGN:
Over the years, SIGN has raised and spent the following amounts on programs that benefit our communities:
Over the past 50 years, SIGN has founded or operated a large number and variety of programs to meet the needs of the community.
Information and Referral Service
SIGN Listens (CJGX phone-in talk program)
Advocated for the development of kindergarten in Yorkton
Leather Craft Project
Day Care Centre
Christmas Toys & Gifts
Senior Citizen’s Lounge
Human Relations Training
Social Action (Crosswalk petition)
Renting space to other agencies
Assisted with the creation of the Parkland Legal Assistance Society
Assisting victims of the apartments fire
Meals on Wheels
Consumer Help Office
Good Neighbour of the month
Senior Citizens Good Neighbour Club
Social Integration Group Home
Adolescent Group Home
Odd Job Squad
Yorkton House Dusters
Young Canada Works Project
Support for local Alcoholism Society
Support for Mental Health Association
Senior Mobility Program
Early Childhood Enrichment
Independent Living Project
Support for Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Community Restitution Program
Parent Aide family support program
Practicum Student Placement
Family Violence and Sexual Assault Counselling
Placements for Assessment and Evaluation
J. Elton Davidge Memorial Fund
Vocational Employment Program
Yorkton Nursery School Co-op moved in
Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan moved in
Big Brothers & Sisters of Canada moved in
Personal Growth Workshops
Personal Development/Family Life sessions
Problem Gambling Counselling
Pre-employment Program for single parents
Employment Skills Program
Parents Support Program
SIGN Women’s Series
Youth Outreach Project
Development Work on Community Kitchens
Youth Service Canada
Circle Time Program
Acquired Brain Injury Program
Youth in Care
Early Childhood Program
Emergency Stabilization Unit
Families & Schools Together
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Separation & Divorce Seminars
Parent Support - Langenburg
Early Childhood Families & Schools Together
A Christmas Carol
Travelodge donated to SIGN
Pre Employment Program
Before & After School Program at MC Knoll and Yorkdale
Assisted flood victims by providing housing at SIGN on Broadway
Life Skills Program
Family Preservation Program
SIGN Early Learning Centre
St. Paul’s School Before & After School Program
Triple P Program
Kamsack Family Resource Centre
Family Support expansion - Fort Qu’Appelle area
Triple P expansion - Fort Qu’Appelle area
HIV Outreach Program
Housing Support Program
Walk-In Counselling Program