History of SOVAS
The South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society (SOVAS) was incorporated as a non- profit organization in 1991. Initially, SOVAS housed only the Community Based Victim Assistance (CVAP) Program that was funded by the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General and staffed by a coordinator and volunteers. CVAP program currently staffs two full time employees and is funded by the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Branch Solicitor General and Ministry of Public Safety
In 1992 the provincial ‘Stopping the Violence’ initiative created the Women’s Counselling Program which was funded by the Ministry of Women’s Equality. In 1993 SOVAS took on the Women’s Counselling Program for the Penticton area which was staffed by one counsellor. Currently the STV program staffs three counselors at SOVAS and is funded by the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Branch Solicitor General and Ministry of Public Safety
Since that time the organization has sustained these two programs and taken on other special projects in response to the needs of the community including Family Law Advocacy, Immigrant Outreach, Date Rape Drug Prevention, Assertiveness Training, Violence in Relationships Community Coordination, and others. Based on changing gaps in community services, and funding arrangements these projects come and go, but have a lasting impact on the services as we integrate the learning into existing services once the funding disappears.
In 2009, SOVAS announced the opening of the Men’s Counselling Program, for male survivors of abuse, which had long been a goal of the agency. Initially funded solely with community donations and running one day per week, in 2010 the Province partially supported the program through BC Gaming making it more sustainable. Currently, the Men’s Counseling Program operates at 3 days a week and is funded by: BC Gaming, The United Way, and Health Sciences Association.
All three main programs at SOVAS are subsided by fundraising and donations. SOVAS actually needs to fundraise almost 1/3 of Men’s Counselling Program for the program to meet the need of the community. SOVAS continues to seek creative ways to continue to provide and expand the service and meet the need in the community.
As of 2017, SOVAS has 7 staff members and have been supporting community members recovering from abuse for 25 years. SOVAS supports approx 1,200 people annually.