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Archway Community Services held our 50th Anniversary celebration on Thursday, Sept 19th at our downtown Abbotsford location. 

Guests had a chance to visit 14 different stations featuring some of our 90+ agency programs ranging from family programs, innovative youth programs and senior support services.  

The afternoon concluded with speeches, a cake-cutting ceremony and a happy birthday song for Archway’s 50th birthday. The ceremony was emceed by long-term employee Kathy Doerksen and attended by federal and provincial government representatives, municipal council members and school trustees.  

Archway’s Founder Walter Paetkau spoke about how the civil rights movement inspired him and moved him into the social services. He shared how social justice concerns have changed in intensity and complexity over the decades. As he reflected on the past 50 years, he remarked, “the fire is still burning and it cannot be quenched.” 

Former Executive Director Thelma Shrock (2000-2010) congratulated the agency for the “well-developed array of services” over the years. 

MP for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon Jati Sidhu talked about the breadth of services offered and wished Archway another 50 years of success. 

MLA for Abbotsford-Mission Simon Gibson remarked, “I don’t think there is one person that doesn’t at some point touch Archway during the course of the year.”  

Deputy Mayor Bruce Banman congratulated Archway on behalf of Mayor Henry Braun and council, noting they had enough council members in attendance to hold a meeting.  “Throughout 50 years, the work of Archway, or as I first knew it, Abbotsford Community Services, has reached through every corner of the city. This organization’s strong vision of social justice combined with compassion and care has shaped countless lives. It’s hard to imagine where our community would be today without the support of Archway Community Services.” 

Archway Board President Steve Carlton reminisced about notable events in 1969, including Woodstock, the moon landing, his own high school graduation and the founding of what was then Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford Community Services. He thanked the present and past board members, other volunteers, and the enthusiastic staff. 

Rod Santiago, current Archway Executive Director, concluded the speeches and promised that Archway would continue working on amplifying the voices of those facing challenges in our community.  

Our non-profit agency began in 1969 and initial projects included creating an information directory on community resources and the Christmas Bureau. Today, our over 400 staff and 1,000 volunteers provide services to families, seniors, youth, newcomers, individuals on low incomes and those with diverse abilities. 

In the coming years, we plan to work on expanding our programs and partnerships in the areas of mental wellness, seniors’ services and strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities. 

To learn more about the evolution of community services programming, visit our History page or order a copy of Paetkau’s book “It Takes Raindrops to Fill a Lake: The First 50 Years of Abbotsford Community Services.”  

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