As SIRCH Community Services executive director Gena Robertson spoke to a crowd of people helped by her organization over its 30 years, she reflected on its impact.

“Programs, groups, training and social enterprises all serve as a vehicle for people to positively impact other people,” Robertson said. “All those ripples from every positive action reach far beyond our program and far beyond the time it occurs in.”

Dozens of people impacted by SIRCH gathered Oct. 17 to reflect on and celebrate its 30th anniversary. People joined together at the Haliburton Community Funeral Home to recognize all of the social services SIRCH has offered.

SIRCH began in 1989 as a parent support program named the “Supportive Initiative for Residents in the County of Haliburton,” which was quickly shortened according to the charity. But Jim Blake, who has served as a SIRCH staff person, said another name was informally considered.

“Someone came up with the idea, why don’t we have it stand for ‘So it really can happen,” Blake said, via a pre-recorded interview played at the event. “A brilliant underpinning of what SIRCH is all about. If you think it and you believe in it and you put energy into it, it really can happen.”


SIRCH has kickstarted hundreds of programs over the years, from cooking training to kindergarten preparedness to parenting programs and many more. It also started other programs that it divested itself from, such as Volunteer Dental Outreach in 2011 and a community hospice program.

Liz Kerlie participated in the Community Action Program for Children, which provides services to families with young children. Kerlie said the programming SIRCH offered made a tremendous difference in her life and helped her towards a college degree.

“I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without the help of SIRCH,” Kerlie said. “Because of SIRCH, my future and my family’s future is exceptionally brighter.”

SIRCH board of directora president Barb Fawcett commended Robertson for her work.

“A young woman returned to the County she grew up in with the vision of making the community a better place for all,” Fawcett said. “We love you and are grateful always. You touch our lives and the lives of those who came to know SIRCH as a place of refuge, healing and strength.”

Robertson said she was humbled and grateful to hear people talk about what SIRCH has achieved. She credited its longevity to its flexibility in delivering programs.

“Our mandate enables us to go where we need to,” she said. “We’re not in a box.”

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