Walking through the doors at Deltassist that first time can be a difficult decision, but for many it's a last chance at getting help.
"People come to us when they don't know where else to go," said Doug Sabourin, executive director.
It could be a person struggling with addiction or mental health issues, a senior looking for assistance so they can continue living at home, a husband wanting to manage his anger before he lashes out at his wife or a family that just lost everything in a fire. Whatever the reason, Deltassist Family and Community Services is there.
"It's hard for people to come through the doors and ask for help," Sabourin said.
To make it easier, Deltassist tries hard to personalize its services. During office hours, there's always someone there to answer the phone and a smiling face to greet people as they arrive at 9097 120th St., North Delta.
Sabourin says everyone who walks through the doors, or picks up the phone and makes that call, gets some kind of assistance from the organization. If Deltassist cannot help someone directly, staff will make sure they get what they need from another resource.
"We can always make sure everyone gets help," he says. Deltassist, which was formed in 1972 after the drug-related death of a South Delta teen, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The organization, as it exists today, is the marriage of two agencies: Deltassist Community Services and Delta Family Services.
A group of concerned citizens, with the support of Delta council, including Mayor Lois Jackson, who was an alderman at the time, came together to form the agency. It had become clear there was no one resource, so the group developed an information centre for residents looking for help.
The group didn't try to offer any services initially, but focused on helping members of the community find the help they required.
As volunteers at the information centre answered calls, they tracked the requests and began noticing some services weren't available.
The needs of the quickly growing community were great, Jackson recalled.
In 1972, more than 60 per cent of the population was under the age of 19, she says, and Delta was only allotted what amounted to half a probation officer.
"We were very short on a number of things," Jackson said in a recent interview. "Deltassist stepped up and tried to fill in some of the gaps."
Three years after its inception, Deltassist began offering some of the missing services. Initially, volunteers were trained as counsellors and matched with clients. Over the years, more needs were identified and more services were offered, including the formation of a food bank and the introduction of HandyDART.
Today, Deltassist is a self-sustaining, not-for-profit society. Its funding comes from provincial contracts, the Fraser Health Authority, the United Way and grants, as well as from the Corporation of Delta.
Sabourin says the agency also relies on donations from individuals and businesses to keep many of its programs running.
The agency's most well-known services are the Toy Depot and food hamper programs every Christmas, which help make the holiday season a little brighter for those in need. However, Deltassist is there 365 days a year.
It offers many services to local seniors - from grocery shopping and transportation to a simple daily phone call to someone living alone. Volunteers also assist hundreds of low-income families and individuals prepare income tax returns.
Last year, Deltassist took more than 21,000 phone calls, referred more than 2,100 services, provided 1,795 people with food or toys at Christmas, offered emergency assistance to 239 people and took more than 1,000 shopping orders over the phone.
"The history of Deltassist is a history of volunteerism," says new board president Maurice Bouchard, who recently took over for Warren Hughes, who served as president for six years.
Revenue has been declining, Sabourin says, but the agency has been able to maintain and increase services due to its generous volunteers and donors.
As the needs of the community continue to change, Deltassist is looking ahead to anticipate what will be required while still serving current needs.
"We're constantly evolving as well," Sabourin says. Contact Deltassist at 604-594-3455 or visit www. deltassist.com.