FACS to mark 75 years with open house


Family & Children’s Services of the District of Rainy River is inviting the public to attend an open house this Wednesday (Nov. 24) as it celebrates 75 years of being incorporated.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet celebration,” noted Wendy Brunetta, who has been with FACS for 26 years.
“We’re celebrating 75 years of incorporation, but it’s also an end of the corporation because we’re merging with Kenora in April of next year.
“So it’s a good time to celebrate,” she added.
The public is invited to drop by the Fort Frances office at 240 First St. E. (the old high school) from 1:30-3:30 p.m., where there will be information on the services the agency provides, as well as historical information and pictures about FACS.
There also will be cake, a door prize, balloons for children, and more.
In her time with FACS, Brunetta has become a bit of a historian while keeping track of its milestones­­.
“Just going through the documents are really interesting,” she remarked, pointing to an annual report from the 1950s.
“It was amazing to see that they had only two staff and about 20 board members, and their expenses for the year were about $3,000,” Brunetta said.
“So from that to what we have now is quite amazing because now we’re at $3 million for an annual budget, and our staff, of course, is we have around 40 full-time staff.”
As well, Brunetta noted there were a lot of fundraising efforts—door-to-door drives, ribbon campaigns, and talent nights—early on in the agency’s life to raise money as funds just didn’t come from the province.
Funding has evolved over the 75 years, with municipalities once being responsible for paying for a child from their community if in care until the province took over funding 100 percent back in the 1990s, she said.
Another important part of FACS’ history is the contributions of Ron King, who was executive director from the early 1970s until his retirement.
“He was very instrumental in divesting to the aboriginal communities all of their aboriginal cases, so he was instrumental in forming Weechi-it-te-win,” Brunetta said.
King also was “instrumental” in establishing FACS’ integrated services back in 1984­­­­­, including “non-mandated” programs such as children’s mental health and child development services.
Excerpts from the pieces of this gathered history also will be available online at www.facsrr.ca
Besides the open house Wednesday afternoon, there also will be a get-together Thursday evening for FACS staff, former staff, volunteers, and board members starting at 6 p.m. at La Place Rendez-Vous.
“It’s almost like a reunion,” said Brunetta, noting those interested in attending can call 274-7787 to purchase tickets.
The evening will be for reflection and recognizing the various accomplishments of the organization.
There also will be a silent auction, with all proceeds going towards FACS’ annual “Adopt an Angel” campaign, as well as an appearance by Thunder Bay comedian “Ivanka.”