A Position of Privilege: Some Other Solutions Welcomes New Executive Director
For the past thirty years, Some Other Solutions has been a key member of Wood Buffalo’s social profit industry, and has aimed to empower individuals to meet life’s challenges. This past year, outgoing Executive Director Alie Warnes announced her departure from the company, and began to transition the arrival of a new leader to fulfill his role. This spring, Some Other Solutions was proud to welcome to their new Executive Director Jason King.
King is approaching the role with a breadth of management and leadership experiences spanning different organizational practices across Canada. Working with the Salvation Army in Newfoundland, Ontario, and Alberta, King oversaw the organization’s church practices, their thrift store, food bank, and emergency disaster services. During his time in Alberta, King went on to work as the chaplain for the St. Albert Fire Department, as well as spending three years working with Wood Buffalo Housing. Complimenting King’s experience in the social profit sector, he also spent four years as manager of Fort McMurray’s Canadian Tire, managing over 120 employees.
With a broad background in leadership, another of King’s passions is running his executive coaching business. “(Being Executive Director) allows me to live my passion for life through my profession,” says King. With Some Other Solutions’ mission aimed at empowering individuals to meet life’s challenges and building their capacity to support others, King considers it a privilege to be part of a company that invests in making a difference in people’s lives.
When King began to transition into his role as Executive Director, he was met with a few surprises. “They definitely do a lot more than I thought,” says King, with a laugh, remarking at the scale of the work of the staff. “I wasn’t aware of the depth of the Child and Youth program, and the reach they have to the community through their interactions with the schools.”
Through the company’s Child and Youth program, Some Other Solutions’ trained mentors work with children in various schools around Wood Buffalo, helping them to foster resiliency skills that empower them to succeed. This mentorship takes the form of direct one-on-one support, group youth training and campaigns that encourage leadership skills, and after-school sports-based extracurricular programs. “I think we have some huge potential to really build on the investment of the youth in this community.”
Some Other Solutions’ Health and Wellness program also provides a valuable support system to the community. The company’s Grief and Loss program includes trained staff that are available to support individuals as they progress through the stages of the grief cycle. This program has also instigated several campaigns to make their resource known and readily available to the community. After a donation from Shaw Broadcasting, Some Other Solutions came into a surplus of teddy bears that were then donated around to various hospitals and clinics to offer support and comfort to those who have experienced a loss. With these bears comes referral information that offers guidance of how and where assistance can be sought after. To further help those who have experienced loss, the company’s ‘Light the Lamp’ campaign offers solace to those grieving by lighting the company’s lamp on a day of passing as a token of remembrance. The program also hosts a community event every December to acknowledge World Wide Candle Lighting Day where parents or family members may come to light a candle in memory of their lost loved one.
“It’s a privilege to be able to meet with someone in that process and to give them confirmation of what they are feeling at that moment is normal,” says King. “some people just need that affirmation that they are not wrong for how they feel. It is great to be able to instill that empowerment.”
Another component of the Health and Wellness Program is the Suicide Prevention Program. This program provides MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) and in partnership with CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) workshops. In the past, the program has also sought to end the stigma surrounding concerns related to suicide and mental health. To combat the stigma, the program has hosted numerous Stand-Up For Mental Health comedy nights aimed at empowering people living with mental illness to speak out and share their experiences in a comedic light. To make these subjects part of an ongoing discussion, Some Other Solution is featured on a weekly radio segment Tuesdays at noon on Cruz 100.5fm called ‘Tough Talk Tuesdays.’ Through this segment, listeners are invited to listen and share their own thoughts on the subject, and develop a stronger awareness of this universal topic.
“That’s a deep topic,” says King, in regards to the Suicide Prevention program. “It takes a special person to be able to show up to work every day and give people who find themselves in that dark place a sense of hope, then to help families recovery through the experience of losing someone that way, or finding recovery from being secretly in that place of contemplating life.”
While Some Other Solutions offers the programs for empowering individuals to meet life’s challenges and strengthen their resiliency skills, the company’s most front-line resource to target this objective is through the Information and Referral Program. As King transitions into his leadership role, he began to view the crisis line as not just a vital component to the company, but a necessary asset to the community at large. “We are meeting people right where they are. It is our privilege to meet you where you are in your life’s challenge. To be able to give a listening ear, or refer someone to 211, a newcomer, for instance to the city, give them the information they need to make their life and transition into the community easier.” Introduced to the Information and Referral program in 2014, 211 is a relatively new component to Some Other Solutions. This free resource offers individuals information and referrals to government and community services that are affordable to individuals and families.
Looking ahead, King’s primary goal is for the company to continue their support of the community through its programs and resources. To achieve this, King is seeking to diversify the company’s funding to achieve sustainable income to allow the programs to operate at peak efficiency. Ultimately, King is very confident in the company’s position going into the future. “The past executives and what they contributed to the company put us in a good position to move forward and evolve and contribute to our community through the child and youth program, through our health and wellness program, and through the crisis line.” King understands the role of Executive Director as a position of privilege because of his opportunity to serve the community, and support the emotional needs of it’s citizens. With their new leader proud to guide the company into the future, the horizons of Some Other Solutions are indeed very bright.