South Okanagan Immigrant & Community Services (SOICS) is a one-stop shop that provides a range of FREE services to immigrants and refugees. Located in south-central BC, we provide outreach services to small, remote, and rural communities in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. Our service area is from Summerland south to Osoyoos and east to Princeton. With two offices in Penticton and Oliver, we meet the clients’ direct needs through language classes, licensed childminding, employment, community connections, life skills workshops, and settlement services. Indirectly, we serve the broader community by enhancing its capacity to assist newcomer integration. We deliver services with the support of local partners including educational institutions, employers, and community organizations. Our multi-lingual staff members provide interpretation in 12 languages and an additional 8 languages are available through our professional networks and volunteers.
Through our community connections services, we match clients and volunteer mentors based on criteria such as similar interests, age, professional background, and occupation. Although the majority of the matches are catered to improve language skills, these matches also provide an avenue for the participants to build friendships and connections. Mentors support and encourage mentees in their goals, connect them to established Canadians, expose them to different perspectives, and share information on:
- Canadian workplace culture and occupational practices; Local job market and networking opportunities;
- Social and workplace communication skills;
- Role of public institutions and surrounding community resources; and
- Local culture and values.
Volunteers are asked to complete an application package, complete a criminal record check and provide two references. We provide volunteer training to individuals who are able, willing and keen to assist immigrants in connecting them with resources that help support their integration into the South Okanagan-Similkameen region. The training session also introduces the mentors to our policies, cultural sensitivity elements, and confidentiality protocols.
Community connection activities are catered towards individual client needs and/or interests. Mentor opportunities include:
- One-on-one tutoring
- Study group sessions
- Conversation club
- Career mentoring
For information, please contact us (250) 492-6299 or visit our website at www.soics.ca