Who We Are
The Cowichan Family Caregivers Support Society is non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for caregivers.
It’s our mission to acknowledge, appreciate and support people in their caregiving role: to alleviate stress and improve their quality of life. We do this by providing a variety of free support services to those who are taking care of a loved one living in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, Canada.
We strive to raise awareness of the importance of caregiving through education, resources and advocacy initiatives.
Why We Support Caregivers
Family caregivers are a large population of people who provide an essential service by taking care of fragile people in our communities. One in sixteen people in BC are caregivers, and it’s estimated that 80% of eldercare in our province is provided by family and friends. When caregivers take on a caregiving role to help their loved ones, they are actually providing an invaluable contribution, and without them our health care system would quickly become overwhelmed.
People who take on a caregiving role often face many challenges including increased stress rates, depression, and financial hardship. Caregiving is an incredibly generous act, and we care deeply about supporting caregivers in whatever ways we can. The caregivers we serve consistently report reduced levels of stress and increased feelings of connectedness.
The Cowichan Family Caregiver Support Society has been providing free services to communities in the Cowichan Valley for over twenty years.
We were founded in 2000 by Garth Harvey, a wonderful Shawnigan Lake resident who dedicated himself to volunteering and strengthening his community. Back then we had only one staff member, Ranjana Basu, our founding Executive Director. Ranjana, a compassionate and “people first” connector of community, worked with Garth for fifteen years and built the Cowichan Family Caregivers Support Society into the strong, local non-profit we are today. Each day we work to hold Garth’s and Ranjana’s values at the core of what we do.
Among many other well-deserved awards, in 2006 Garth was awarded the Canadian Care Award, from the Governor General of Canada, for his extensive volunteer work in the community.
When Garth died in 2018, at age 97, he was still an active board member for the Shawnigan Lake Museum, another organization he helped to establish. One of his favourite quotes was “… we are most fully human, most truly ourselves, most authentically individual, when we commit to the community.” Garth was truly an inspiration.
Today our staff includes multiple professionals who provide emotional support, facilitation, information, referrals, and community development services. We have worked in partnership with many organizations including: Family Caregivers of BC, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Cowichan Valley Hospice Society, OUR Cowichan Communities Health Network, Elders Project in Cowichan, Volunteer Cowichan and many other community agencies.
A Guide for Supporting Caregiving Families
In 2009, founding Executive Director, Ranjana Basu, wrote a valuable book about our service model, titled “A Guide for Supporting Caregiving Families”, with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Young Carers Project
In 2010, we recognized that young caregivers aged 13-25 who were caring for sick or disabled parents or other relatives, were underserved and at risk. With multi-year project funding from HRSDC, we created the Young Carers Project that ran for seven years.
New Horizons for Seniors – Keeping In Touch
We were successful in our application to New Horizons for Seniors in 2014, and ran a volunteer project called Keeping in Touch with Caregiving Families.
Shawnigan Lake Walk/Adventure
The Shawnigan Lake Walk/Adventure fundraising event was first held in 2005 and evolved and grew over time. By 2013, participants were able to choose their activity, walking, running, kayaking, bicycling, or geocaching, along five routes ranging from 4 kilometres to 27 kilometres. The routes and included the Trans Canada trail and views of the beautiful Cowichan Valley. Thanks to a dedicated and hardworking team, this successful fundraiser ran for twelve years and raised a net amount of $103,000 for the society.
United Way Family & Friend Caregiver Support Program
The Family & Friend Caregiver Support Program is an important research project, with the goal of increasing awareness and funding for caregiver support. This project is funded by the Government of BC, managed by the United Way, and supported by the Family Caregivers of BC.
Funding Provided By
This work is made possible by our fabulous and hardworking team of staff and board members.