Our Story

The Community Resource Centre (CRC) was established in 1987 as a project of Women Initiating Responsible Change, a non-profit corporation. 

Our Story

Women Initiating Responsible Change made the first application for funding. It started with a survey, spearheaded by Julie Levi in the mid 80s, that underlined the need for a place that could give information and referrals to the services that were available in Renfrew County. This initiative was funded by a tiny Ministry of Community and Social Services/Community and Neighborhood Support Services Program grant – enough to pay one part-time staff person. 

‌A local businessman generously provided office space on Lake Street, and CRC was born. Initially, the CRC was open 3 days a week – assisting people to access the services they were entitled to. Gwen Foster brought the literacy program to the CRC - which linked volunteer tutors with people who needed help learning literacy skills. This program fostered a countywide awareness of adult literacy needs, and moved on to operate independently after a few years' time.

From the outset, we've championed increased access for rural and isolated communities.

Another of our early projects was Buried Treasure – 
‌a shop that sold used clothing and household items. Not only was Buried Treasure
‌a resource for members of the community; it provided a way for people to 
‌become familiar ‌with the CRC.

‌The Toy Bus program was modeled on Children's Resources on Wheels, (which operates out of Lanark County). The idea was to provide a mobile Family Resource Centre that would travel to a number of small communities in the area, lending toys and books and providing playgroups where parents of young children could meet and share their experiences.

‌That dream was realized with the funding of the first Toy Bus in 1993. Toy Bus remains a flagship program of CRC, and continues to provide support to parents of young children – now as part of the Ontario Early Years initiative. November 2023 marks the 30-year anniversary of the Toy Bus program.

The CRC was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in September 1991 and continued to manage and deliver a variety of projects, developing many countywide initiatives and services as well as local neighbourhood services.

‌An important early initiative was to begin the process of establishing an electronic database inventory of human services. That program continues to provide Renfrew County data for the Ontario (Canada) 211 service and to produce the County Connections directory of human services for Renfrew County.

‌One of the high points of CRC’s history was the purchase of the building at 15 Lake Street (formerly Burke’s Jewellers) in 1997. This building has served us well over the years, and continues to be our main hub. In 2017 CRC opened up the newly renovated North Street Community Centre. In the back, North Street houses Buried Treasure and the Killaloe Food Bank. Up front, we have a commercial-inspected kitchen and a community space for programming and community group rentals.

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. 

CRC has seen many changes and many new programs since those early days. We've been called "the little organization that could,” initiating Youth programming, Girls programs, Mentor 12+ programs, and most recently Seniors Active Living, the expansion of our SASI program (now Watershed), and the installation of a greenhouse in Pathways Park to grow food to support our local Food Bank. 

‌We've backed community initiatives for mental health awareness, access to public art, access to food, and other supports in time of crisis. The Ottawa Valley Midwives and The Phoenix Centre are also housed in our 15 Lake Street office. CRC programs support people from birth well into their elder years. ‌

‌Throughout its life, the CRC’s primary focus has been to provide services for local families. While programs have shifted over the years along with government funding priorities, we are certain that many of these services would not have been available in southwestern Renfrew County if the CRC had not been there to manage and deliver them.