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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Some aspects of the community organization method in the expansion of welfare services in the Okanagan Valley, B.C. 1958-1963 Dobson, Una Margaret

Abstract

This thesis on some aspects of the community organization method in the expansion of welfare services in the Okanagan Valley, covers the period of five years from 1958 to 1963, during which the writer was resident in Vernon. The thesis is, therefore, by nature a field experiment in observation, with an attempt at a critical analysis of the services secured in the light of accepted methods of community organization. It was a matter of excitement that so many welfare services were secured in that relatively short- space of time, and so many others were explored or initiated; this phenomenon has significance for other areas of the province and, in so far as is known, this type of social reporting has not been carried out elsewhere in British Columbia. A review of the historical background of the Okanagan Valley shows that it is bountifully supplied with the natural elements and resources which made pioneering relatively easy. Fruit growing, lumbering, and, in the early days, trapping, were the main sources of livelihood. The study shows that these have varied to some degree, especially with the phenomenal growth of Tourism, yet the need to develop secondary industries is of prime importance. The social condition of the people reflects the economic, - increasingly the expanded population requires housing, and the old orchards are giving way to new housing subdivisions. An increasingly complex manner of life demands a comparable network of welfare services. This thesis is essentially concerned with how one city In the Okanagan Valley gradually developed a community consciousness toward getting things done by their own efforts. The research method is largely empirical, as the writer was involved in many of the group efforts made by other Vernon citizens, and came away with a great sense of admiration for the degree of sophistication the city achieved. Questionnaires, personal interviews, actual participation and observation, were some of the methods used, and a two year interval has also afforded an opportunity for some retrospection about the validity of the changes which took place. The study finds that, where public welfare-services are unable to fulfil needs, community effort at identifying these unmet needs leads to a richer concept of themselves in groups; they learn to appreciate the peculiar contribution of each other. As Murray Ross believes that the development of true community organization demands "community morale" as much as the ability to identify need, one has searched for ways in which the people of Vernon sought to achieve this morale and self-confidence. Professional involvement in the community is also shown to create an integrated approach to community problems. Better understanding of professional and volunteer function is thus fostered, which in turn creates mutual respect for each other's efforts at solving common problems and filling unmet needs. As communities grow even more complex, it is seen that the contention as made in the September, 1965 brief by the B.C. Association of Social Workers to the Provincial Secretary is justified, that is, that community organisers should be appointed to act as liaison between an advisory council and the body of volunteers, with their professional counterparts at the local level. One could hope for such a professional organizer to serve the needs of Canada's expanding population to the north, thus bringing services to new communities before problems arise, a truly preventive measure.

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