“Effective, just and humane responses to crime and its causes.”
The John Howard Society in Sarnia had its beginning during the fall of 1949. Miss Jean Wilton, a former Sarnian living in Vancouver, observed the functioning of the Society in British Columbia. Upon her return to Sarnia, she approached 16 Sarnians who were involved in various forms of community service. Those 16 people accepted Miss Wilton’s invitation to form the board of directors of a new branch of the John Howard Society – in Sarnia. During its organizational meeting held on November 18, 1949 at the YM-YWCA, this group took as its aims:
“To assist in the rehabilitation of the returning prisoner, to give him material and spiritual help and to conduct research into ways of preventing crime and to study penal conditions.”
The Sarnia Branch was fortunate to have had amongst its number individuals such as Miss Wilton, the late Msgr. J.A. Cook, the late N.L. LeSueur, and the late George Parker and other notable community leaders.
During 1953 the Society became a member of the Community Chest, now the United Way. Msgr. J.A. Cook assumed the role of ‘Coordinator of Casework’ and assigned clients to members of the board of directors.
The agency continued as a volunteer group until 1976 when a part-time, paid co-ordinator was hired. In 1977, the agency hired its first full-time executive director, along with a part-time bookkeeper and a part-time caseworker. The staff worked diligently delivering services, developing new programs and promoting the Society in the community. With the increased availability of service, the agency saw its client numbers increase dramatically and, with the assistance of the John Howard Society of Ontario and the United Way, the casework position became full-time.
During the ensuing years, the branch developed innovative programs, set Canadian precedents, participated in national reform strategies, and operated pilot projects for the province of Ontario. Several of those programs still operate today thanks to the kind support of Ministries of the Province of Ontario.
Board of Directors