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Interview with Sara Vikse-Brenton, Executive Director

Can you tell me a little bit about how and why your organization began

Family Enrichment and Counselling Service (Family Enrichment) began in 1974 with a mandate “to promote, encourage and assist in the attainment of fuller and stronger family life” in Fredericton through counselling, programs and educational services. Over our 50 year history, we have offered a variety of programs and courses that promote healthy individuals, relationships and families. The main focus of the agency continues to be our counselling services.Has the organization grown significantly since it began?  Family Enrichment started as one of only a handful of counselling agencies in the Greater Fredericton region. As more mental health services have become available, the agency has adapted to the needs of the community. We currently employ a counselling staff of nine, supported by a three-person administrative team.

What is your role in the organization and what is the structure?

We are a registered charity, governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and managed by an Executive Director. Our counsellors all hold Master’s degrees in their respective fields and are registered with regulating bodies for their professional designation.

What types of services does your organization offer and who are the people who use or take advantage of your services?

Family Enrichment is a fee-for-service agency that offers individual counselling to clients 12 and older, as well as couple and family counselling. Clients are able to self-refer. We offer a sliding scale for individual counselling to those without access to private insurance based on family size and income. We also offer groups that address intimate partner violence, healthy eating, and support for 2SLGBTQIA+ teens.

As a not-for-profit, what are your major fundraisers? 

We are in the planning stages for ways to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Stay tuned for more details!What are the best ways to help your organization? (i.e. donations, volunteering, sharing on social media, etc.)

We love it when our supporters let others know about our services. We also appreciate monetary donations to help us continue to carry out our mission. As a registered charity, we are able to provide tax receipts for any donation.

Can you tell me about one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had while working for this organization?

As a counselling organization, we work alongside clients to help them learn strategies that they can use outside of therapy. We help clients recognize their successes along that journey. The day that a client says, “I think I’m okay to do this on my own” is greatly rewarding.

What kind of challenges has your organization encountered and how did you adapt to overcome them?

The Global Pandemic was a game-changer for our organization. Counselling has traditionally meant that clients had to meet their therapist at the office. When that option was not available due to COVID protocols, we quickly learned that there are other ways to meet with our clients (telephone or video.) We now know that virtual appointments work better for some of our clients, so continue to offer this service.

If I were thinking about volunteering for a not-for-profit organization, what would you say to sway my decision to join your organization? What kind of impact can volunteers have within your organization?

As a not-for-profit organization, Family Enrichment spends the majority of its budget providing direct services to our clients. This means we don’t always have the resources for things like marketing, fundraising and social media. Our volunteer Board of Directors plays a vital role in filling those gaps. We welcome applications of interest to join the Board or to help us promote our services.

What sets you apart from other not-for-profits?

To my knowledge, we are the only not-for-profit counselling agency in Fredericton.

What is something that you wish more people knew about your organization?

Our staff of counsellors bring more than 100 years of combined experience helping clients work toward their goals.

What are you most proud of about your organization?

The staff at Family Enrichment are truly amazing. They are dedicated to their jobs, our clients, and to the agency. In many ways, we are a family.

Any final remarks? 

Family Enrichment and Counselling Service has been around for 50 years. We look forward to the next 50 and beyond.

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