The Community Resource Centre (CRC) was established in 1987 as a project of Women Initiating Responsible Change, a non-profit corporation.
This group made the first application for funding. It started with a survey, spearheaded by Julie Levi in the mid 80's, that underlined the need for a place that could give information and referrals to the services that were available in Renfrew County. This initiative was funded by a tiny Ministry of Community and Social Services – Community and Neighborhood Support Services Program grant – enough to pay one part-time staff person.
A local businessman generously provided office space on Lake St, and CRC was born. Initially, the CRC was open 3 days a week – assisting people to access the services they were entitled to. Gwen Foster brought the literacy program to the CRC - which linked volunteer tutors with people who needed help learning literacy skills. Out of this program they developed a county wide awareness of adult literacy needs. The program moved on to operate independently after a few years time.
We have always retained an interest in reaching and increasing access for rural and isolated communities.
One of the other projects initiated in the early days was Buried Treasure –
a shop that sold used clothing and household items. Not only was Buried Treasure
a resource for members of the community, it provided a way for people to
become familiar with the CRC.
The Toy Bus program was modeled on Children's Resources On Wheels, (which operates out of Lanark County). The idea was to provide a mobile Family Resource Centre that would travel to a number of small communities in the area, lending toys and books and providing playgroups where parents of young children could meet and share their experiences.
That dream was realized with the funding of the first Toy Bus in 1993. Toy Bus remains a flagship program of CRC and continues to provide support to parents of young children – now as part of the Ontario Early Years initiative. November 2023 marks the 30 year anniversary of the Toy Bus program.
The CRC was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in September 1991 and continued to manage and deliver a variety of projects, developing many County-wide initiatives and services as well as local, neighbourhood services.
One early initiative was to begin the process of establishing an electronic database inventory of human services. That program continues to provide Renfrew County data for the Ontario (Canada) 211 service and to produce the County Connections directory of human services for Renfrew County.
One of the high points of CRC’s history was the purchase of the building at 15 Lake Street (formerly Burke’s Jewellers) in 1997. This building has served us well over the years, and continues to be our main hub. In 2017 CRC opened up the newly renovated North Street Community Centre. In the back North St houses Buried Treasure, the Killaloe Food Bank & up front has a commercial-inspected kitchen, & a community space for programming & community group rental.
If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Many changes and programs have occurred since then. Youth programming, Girls programs, Mentor 12+ programs, and most recently Seniors Active Living, the expansion of our SASI program and the installation of a greenhouse in Pathways Park to grow food to support our local Food Bank.
The Ottawa Valley Midwives & Pheonix Centre have offices at 15 Lake St. The CRC has programming that supports people from birth until well into their elder years. We've been called "the little organization that could." The CRC has supported community initiatives for mental health awareness, access to public art, access to food, and other supports in time of crisis.
Throughout its life, CRC’s primary focus has been to provide services for local families. There have been many different programs over the years, as governments’ funding priorities have shifted. But we are certain many of these services would not have been available in southwestern Renfrew County if CRC had not been there to manage and deliver them.