SUNDRE — In an effort to enhance and prioritize the delivery of services in the future, the Greenwood Neighbourhood Place (GNP) Society is conducting a community needs assessment.
Town and surrounding area residents are being asked to participate by getting together to discuss what they most enjoy about life in Sundre as well as brainstorming ideas on ways to improve, said Sari Werezak, GNP’s executive director.
Community needs assessments come in various forms, such as attempting to address specific topics, for example access to community supports and services, transportation, or senior issues, said Werezak by email in response to questions.
“But we are hoping to identify our strengths along with issues and challenges. The findings will help determine how to prioritize and direct support in the community,” she said.
Since the last community needs assessment was conducted in 2006, the society felt the time for an updated service plan had come.
“Using the resources available with a dedicated volunteer committee, GNP will conduct the study and share the summary of the information gathered,” she said, adding that a final report — which will be found online by visiting www.mygnp.org — is expected to be available to the public in the new year.
The information obtained from the community will help not only the society, but also all other interested local non-profit groups and organizations, enabling them to more strategically plan and cater programs and services that could potentially close some gaps. Additionally, the data will support funding applications, she said.
“Ideally, these should be done every few years to provide a current snapshot of what our successes are, and identify top issues that Sundre and area residents are worried about.”
Courtesy of support from the municipality, Sundre Family Community Support Services, community participation and volunteer support, the society is able to conduct the study at a fairly low cost, she said.
People who are so inclined may participate by going online to fill out the survey, although printed versions will also be available around the community, including the society’s office, the municipal office, and the Sundre Municipal Library, she said, adding answers provided will be kept confidential.
Residents who accept flyers will also receive the survey in their mailbox, and are encouraged to fill it out and either return it by mail or drop it off at any participating location, she said.
“We will be asking the community organizations to help us fan out the survey to their groups and hope for broad participation,” she said, adding, the link online will remain live until December.
Originally getting started in May, developing an assessment research plan — which involved conversations with various community stakeholders — the pandemic created a challenge situation that called for some creativity, she said.
“For example, we held several outdoor meetings and were thankful for extended good weather! Priority areas and common themes helped us to develop survey questions, and we are already pretesting the draft version,” she said, adding the final version is expected to go live on the society’s website on Nov. 3.
Looking ahead, the society’s aim is “to go deeper and facilitate further conversations with sectors such as seniors, youth and community organizations.”
That might mean following up with sub-surveys specific to those demographics, or perhaps even community forums to further discuss priority areas, she said.
“We have hopes of engaging the schools in some activities as well. Once the survey is out, we can start on this, although we are not in a hurry…the whole process has opened doors for collaboration,” she said.
“We know the assessment is not the end — it’s only the beginning.”
It's important for as many people of all ages from as great a variety of walks of life to participate, as the society wants to ensure the data compiled by the survey presents an accurate picture of the community’s needs, she said.
“We don’t want to leave anyone out, and encourage people to help get the survey to everyone — especially those who might be easily missed or may need some assistance in responding.”
Also, recognizing that not everyone has online access, Werezak said people are welcome to pick up extra copies of the printed versions to share with others.
“This is an opportunity for everyone’s voices to be heard on what makes life in Sundre great and what they wish they had that isn’t here now,” she said.
Expressing gratitude in advance for people’s participation, she said, “in the end, it could add to their quality of life and initiate or expand programs and services.”