Once upon a time two little non-profits started talking to each other and realized that they had a lot in common and could help each other survive: The Sea to Sky Freenet Association, in existence since 1993 to make technology tools accessible to individuals and non–profit groups and the Volunteer Centre, in existence since 1997 to promote and facilitate volunteering and the appropriate use of volunteers by non profit groups.
Common ground was found in the goals of promoting positive personal and community development and empowerment, serving very similar broad target groups and providing tools & resources for other groups and organizations.
It was also recognized that separately, the two organizations were small and had very limited resources. The Freenet had always struggled with communicating it’s purpose to the average citizen who was intimidated by technology while the Volunteer Centre had been unsuccessful in obtaining any funding for core operations and thus was severely limited in its ability to provide service.
As partners the Volunteer Centre was able to start using technology to deliver service and had access to core infrastructure while the Freenet was able to communicate about technology in the context of other services that the community could more easily understand and it was able to start becoming accessible to other non profit groups.
The two were also able to share human resources. Initially this was volunteers, then a board, then a coordinator, then two coordinators.
The partnership and the community development approach was also much more attractive to funders. So in 2002, with the help of a United Way POD grant, work began on a joint strategic plan. This process which continued with the support of the United Way through several additional grants led in 2004 to the creation of a Drop In Community Resource Centre: The Hotspot.
Collaboration and partnership with other groups and finding ways to generate financial sustainability for the two organizations and other groups through social enterprise initiatives are two core values of the Hotspot.