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Happy 70th Anniversary!

posted by Scott Williams

Celebrating 70 years - KW Counselling Services with butterflies.


On September 25th we celebrate our 70th anniversary of providing service to this community. This passage from our 1951 Annual Report explains the genesis of our agency:


“In November, 1950, the Kitchener-Waterloo Family Service Bureau opened its door at 4 Queen Street West, Kitchener, Ontario, thus adding one more link to the chain of family services in Canada.

The petitioners for this organization were the citizens of Kitchener and Waterloo who had long felt that a community service able to handle family problems at a preventative level was badly needed.

Spear-headed by the K-W Social Workers’ Council and the Junior Chamber of Commerce, a survey was completed which confirmed the increasing need for a family agency in this community.

Convinced that there was sufficient interest and demand for such a service, the group next approached the Canadian Welfare Council in Ottawa to obtain further evaluation and advice on the proposed agency.

Resultantly, it was agreed that the new agency would not duplicate or replace any of the existing agencies. It would be a service agency rather than a relief giving agency. Taken into account was the realization that the saving in dollars and cents would be great since the cost of a preventative service is always a mere fraction of the cost of placing children, maintaining delinquents in “correctional” institutions and caring for the mentally and physically ill in hospitals. Also recognized was the fact that the saving of unhappiness and social breakdown would be tremendous. It was agreed that the new agency would follow the traditional pattern of other family agencies in Canada and the United States, offering skilled help and counselling on marital difficulties, parent-child problems, adolescent conflicts, mental, emotional and physical illness, handicap and economic adjustments.”


During our first year, 235 families (over 1,200 people) benefitted from our counselling services. In 2019, we provided 13,896 hours of counselling and 12,136 people benefitted from our counselling services, youth groups, and parenting education and supports.

In the 1950s, we partnered with other local organizations to help settle a group of Hungarian refugees in Kitchener-Waterloo.

In the 1960s, we helped create the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University and began working to educate future generations of social workers who interned with us.

In the 1970s and 1980s, our Family Life Education programs blossomed, providing hundreds of parenting courses and groups that benefitted thousands of families.

In the 1990s, we persevered along with other similar organizations in the face of a recession and government funding cuts that decimated social services.

In the 2000s, we developed one of the first Walk In Counselling Clinics in the country. By providing single sessions of solution-focused counselling one afternoon per week, we were able to help people in their time of need.

In the 2010s, our OK2BME services for LGBTQ2+ youth and families positioned us as experts in serving LGBTQ2+ communities and helped to transform the cultural landscape of Waterloo Region by working to make the community a safer and more inclusive place.

We have created Parenting with Passion TV series for Rogers Television and CTV, and worked with local school boards to provide emotions management groups like STEAM. We have operated as a teaching facility training more than 1,000 interns. We have been part of the fabric of the Waterloo Region community for generations, and we are grateful to have had the support of the community all these years. Community members are the partners that make our work possible.

We began with a grant of $6,500 from the KW Federated Charities (now United Way Waterloo Region Communities), and we still rely on United Way support to keep our doors open, and make it possible for us to provide counselling services to those in need. This means we rely on the community to support United Way. Please help us celebrate our anniversary with a gift to help us continue to provide counselling services to those in need. Make a contribution today!