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Aldergrove, Langley youth organizations to merge

For Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services and Langley’s Family and Youth Services, a joint project they started in 2009 proved inspiration to work more closely together overall. That’s coming to fruition now, as the organizations announced last week that they’re planning to officially merge.

Reverend Kim Prokopchuk, the current president of the ANS board of directors and the deacon at Aldergrove’s St. Dunstan’s Anglican Church, said the two organizations’ joint project (turning Aldergrove’s Building 272 into a drop-in community centre for youth) showed that they could accomplish a lot together.

“The two organizations really complement each other,” Prokopchuk said. “It became so obvious as we worked together that we could do more if we were to merge.”

Lynne Topham is currently the executive director of both organizations and will retain that role after the merger. She has been with ANS since 1995, became its executive director in 2004 and has also been involved with FAYS over much of the last decade. Both organizations currently work throughout all of Langley, with ANS focusing on families that have children aged eight and younger and FAYS primarily working with teenagers, but also trying to help children aged five and up. Topham said the Building 272 project demonstrated that the two organizations were working along the same lines, but had a considerable amount to offer each other thanks to their differing areas of expertise.

“It kind of planted the seed for further discussions,” she said.

ANS has around 25 employees, while FAYS has 11. Prokopchuk said combining the organizations should help to reduce administration time and expenses while offering a more comprehensive approach to help at-risk children, youth and families. However, the plan is to maintain the current staffs and mission areas.

“There’s not going to be employees losing jobs,” Prokopchuk said.

The FAYS office on Eastleigh Crescent in downtown Langley will become the unified organization’s main office, but the ANS office above the Aldergrove Community Police Office will be retained and will be used to head up their Aldergrove operations. Topham said having a strong Aldergrove presence will be vital for the combined organization.

“We have to have that presence still in Aldergrove,” she said.

The two organizations will officially merge July 1, but preparation work is already underway. Officially, FAYS is merging into ANS, so the new organization will be called Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services at first, but they’re hoping to develop a new name that reflects their Langley-wide mandate and presence. Topham said it will take a while to fully combine the two organizations, though.

“The process will evolve over six to eight months,” she said.

Jeremy Lyndon, the president of the board of directors of FAYS, said the merger should significantly benefit that organization.

“What this means for FAYS is stability,” he said.

Lyndon said merging with ANS gives FAYS that stability while maintaining the local connections and control that have helped them over the years.

“Our number-one priority for this whole thing was keeping services in Langley provided by a Langley organization.”