OWCS was initiated in 1977 by Christian churches in the west end of Ottawa who were motivated by the love of Jesus Christ, to provide practical services to all elderly persons in need, regardless of race, colour or creed. Over the years OWCS has expanded to serve elderly persons and persons with physical disabilities in a variety of way, through the support of a variety of funders, including the Ministry of Health and the City of Ottawa. OWCS continues to be supported by churches in our community.
Ottawa West Community Support (OWCS) can trace its beginnings back to 1968, when Parkdale United Church established a long-range Planning Committee to determine the future role of church property. The consultants recommended that rather than re-developing existing church property, the efforts of the congregation should be concentrated on establishing three community programs: Senior Citizens Support, Child Support and Health Maintenance.
By March 1, 1977, the Senior Citizens Support Program was in place with fifteen volunteers who each agreed to provide two hours of assistance each week. Office space was provided in the basement of Parkdale United Church and was equipped with only one desk, two chairs and a telephone.
Throughout the first summer, volunteers, including many students, knocked on doors in the community to raise awareness of the Senior Citizens Support Program.
As word of this new program reached through the community, many of the churches in the West End became increasingly interested in the program and wanted to become involved. It was agreed that a Board of Management would be set up consisting of members from each church. Member churches provided financial support and many of our volunteers. This tradition continues to this day.
In August 1980, OWCS moved to our current office location at 1137 Wellington Street W. The building which is owned by the City of Ottawa had previously been used as a City of Ottawa Health Unit. With the financial help of our member churches we were able to obtain a stove, refrigerator and photocopy machine. Eventually, enough funds were raised to furnish a dining room that could accommodate twenty-four people.
For many years, Ottawa West Community Support operated as Ottawa West Senior Citizen Support Services under the Queensway Social Action group.
In 2004, OWCS was incorporated as its own entity with its own charity registration number.
Over the years, OWCS has continued to grow in the number of people it serves as well as the number of programs and services offered.
Today, the majority of programs offered at OWCS are funded by the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) which receives its funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. Each year OWCS provides services to over 3,500 seniors and that number continues to rise.
In 2007, OWCS was approached by the Ottawa Community Support Coalition to act as the lead agency in a pilot project called ‘Aging in Place,’ funded through the province of Ontario’s Aging @ Home Initiative. In collaboration with the Champlain Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and Ottawa Community Housing OWCS began providing targeted services in five subsidized seniors apartment complexes in the Ottawa area.
In 2008, the AiP project received annualized funding and expanded to include eight project buildings with the CCAC appointed as lead agency. In 2009, the Aging in Place program expanded further and we are now providing services in eleven Ottawa Community Housing Seniors Complexes in the Ottawa area.
In the fall of 2010, the Champlain LHIN requested that Ottawa West Community Support provide 24-hour Assisted Living Services to High Risk Seniors. This program provides services to meet the needs of high risk seniors who can reside at home and require the availability of personal support and homemaking services on a 24-hour basis.
In Winter 2013, OWCS became a provider in the Enhanced Respite Program. This program supports seniors in the community, providing assistance with personal care and relief for caregivers. Service is available 24-hours a day – 365 days a year. The addition of this program has increased our service area to the far west borders of Ottawa.
In 2014, OWCS continued to see expanded growth of its in-home services with the addition of the Homemaking Program and expansion of the Enhanced Respite Program. This further increased our service area across greater Ottawa, in the east to St. Laurent Blvd. and to the west to Carleton Place.
In 2015, OWCS was selected as one of three agencies to participate in an Ontario-wide pilot project to provide publically funded Personal Support Services in the western part of greater Ottawa. After a successful pilot project, this program became permanent in January 2016.