It Takes Raindrops to Fill a Lake: A 50-year Retrospective of Abbotsford Community Services
By Walter Paetkau
“The story of Abbotsford Community Services is a story of building community. It is a story of people working together to enrich the lives and destiny of citizens of all ages, all abilities, all genders, all income levels, all races, all faiths, and all political persuasions.”
About Walter Paetkau
Walter Paetkau received his teaching degree from the University of Alberta. After a few years in classrooms, he enrolled as a student at the Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. During his second year he was accepted as an exchange student at the Interdenominational Theological Center, an African American seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. It was there that he was influenced by the civil rights movement which led to his growing interest in peace, justice and social service issues.
Walter moved to British Columbia and worked for the BC Mennonite Conference and the Mennonite Central Committee, developing service projects. He was one of the founders of Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford Community Services in 1967; the constitution was drafted in 1968, and the Society was registered in 1969.
Mr. Paetkau served the organization in the role of Executive Director of Abbotsford Community Services from 1969 – 2000.
About the History of ACS
Abbotsford Community Services began during an era of activism, new beginnings, and social service development. Local citizens came together to talk about setting up services the community needed.
In 1968, a constitution was approved and ACS became a registered society. Modest service projects evolved, and in the early 1970s, federal and provincial support unlocked funding that ensured sustainability of the agency. This led to rapid evolution as a significant multi-service agency in both the community and the province. Today, we’re known as Archway Community Services and over 400 staff members help the community with more than 90 programs across Abbotsford, Mission, Langley and Chilliwack.
About the Book Project
Archway Community Services (formerly known as Abbotsford Community Services) is proud to announce the telling of our story, from our 1969 origins through five decades of cooperation, volunteerism, community response and service.
The book, spearheaded by ACS founding member Walter Paetkau, recounts how our organization has developed into one of the most diverse service agencies of its kind in Canada.
It tells the story of the early years, development, and growth of services through the decades and includes stories of success and cautionary tales for future generations, based on our experiences.
The book draws from archives, interviews with former and current staff, volunteers, and people in the local community.
A Brief Insight Into the Book
I once heard a story of a teenage daughter asking her mother, “Why does it take so long for our life to improve?” Life in Mumbai, India was difficult especially for a girl. The mother attempted to explain their plight and then concluded, “It takes raindrops to fill a lake.”
I was moved by that insight because it was so translatable to my own community. One by one, we began our services in the 1960s. One by one, we grew with the community and its needs.
This book, “It Takes Raindrops to Fill a Lake” explores that journey.
From the Foreword
“This book records the history of creating a facility to provide services to people within a local community. In following this history, one sees its role of social architect, developing needed social infrastructure to build a strong and vibrant community.”
From the Introduction
“There I was in 1969, a young reporter climbing a long flight of stairs to the floor above James Fraser TV, to write a story about a guy who was putting together a program to help the less fortunate among us. Who would have thought, back then, that virtually 50 years later I’d once again be writing about what has become one of Abbotsford’s greatest success stories – Community Services. It has gone from a fledgling service provider to, even in its early years, an example for all other help organizations to follow.”
Photo supplied by The Reach Gallery Museum. (P8432)