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PICS Has Been Serving The Community For 28 Years

Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) stands out as one of the most prominent organizations that has been serving our community for more than 28 years. Dr. Gharib Singh Pannu, co-author of PICS Reflections printed in 2012 on the 25 th anniversary of this community service provider, captured its mission and accomplishments very well in these words: “..Over the years it (PICS) has grown by leaps and bounds, spread its wings in all directions and aspects of human activity, and in doing so touching the minds and hearts of people long established in the community as well as newcomers from so many different national, religious and cultural backgrounds.”

PICS is a symbol of great pride not only for the South Asian community but also for the community at-large.  The driving force behind all of this is none other than the “Living Legend” Charan Pal Singh Gill and his team of very dedicated individuals.

This registered non-profit society serving the community since 1987 has a lot to be proud of. Its wide array of services include: Employment Programs, Settlement Services, Language Services, Social Programs, and Housing Services. All of this has made this organization as one of the most respected, multicultural and renowned organizations in the Metro Vancouver area. Its mission and vision statements are a true reflection of Canadian multiculturalism. PICS’ rise from a very humble start to a multimillion dollar organization with a large workforce is a reflection of its strong commitment to the community. Its transition from a service organization to the seniors housing market a few years ago was a big development for our community.

PICS’ efforts in providing suitable housing for South Asian seniors was a commendable initiative. PICS’ 77 unit Independent Living Facility (Guru Nanak Niwas) in Surrey, built in co-operation with BC Housing Commission and South Fraser Health Region, was a major landmark. It was followed by a number of other projects. These included a 49 unit Assisted Living Facility, Day Program for seniors and the 8 bed-Harmony House- for battered women and their children. All of this is due to the tireless efforts of the founding member and CEO of PICS-Charan Pal Gill and his team. Charan Pal is never shy to accept a challenge. Whether it is standing up for the rights of farm workers or fighting against racism or building housing for seniors, he is there upfront leading the troops. This approach is clearly evident in PICS’ latest $30 million project already under way. This proposed Multicultural Extended Seniors Care Home will have 125 beds fully equipped to care for the elderly who need personalized attention in a setting which is familiar to them. Services offered at this Care Home will include 24 hour emergency response, social, leisure and recreational activities and assistance with daily living tasks

The fundraising for this ambitious project was kicked off on May, 28, 2015. This event drew more than 700 persons of diverse backgrounds as well as political and community leaders of every stripe. By the time the fundraiser was over, it raised more than $100,000. This is very rare and is a great tribute to the excellent work that PICS has been doing for the community. These facilities for seniors being spearheaded by PICS are a welcome development for the seniors. As the South Asian community has grown over the years so have the seniors numbers and needs. A large number of these seniors are looking for a place where they can spend the rest of their lives in a peaceful, friendly and inclusive environment. It is believed that the demand for these special facilities is so much that there is a long waiting list. In a sense, PICS has accepted this challenge and continues to work hard in meeting the special needs of our seniors. These initiatives, along with the multiple services provided by PICS for more than 28 years deserve our thanks and appreciation.

By Balwant Sanghera

Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.

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