Q&A with Shelley Lorrof, PALS executive director

Shelley Lorrof, executive director of Peace Adult Learning Society

Serving the Central Peace area for over 40 years, the Peace Adult Learning Society (PALS) originated in the Town of Spirit River. Then the office was moved to the Village of Rycroft, where it shared space with the village’s Municipal Library. In January of 2017, PALS returned to Spirit River. PALS became a society in 1994, servicing each of the five areas that encompass the Central Peace: Birch Hills County, Municipal District of Spirit River No. 133, Saddle Hills County, Town of Spirit River and the Village of Rycroft.

We met up with Shelley Loroff in her office on Main Street to find out what PALS has to offer residents of the Central Peace.

Q: What is the Peace Adult Learning Society (PALS)?
A: PALS is a non-profit organization that helps the learners in the area achieve their goals. Every adult learner has different goals, and we try to help them succeed. PALS receives funding from the Advanced Education department of the Government of Alberta but is run by a local board of directors. There are 120 organizations like this across the province.

How does it benefit the residents?
PALS offers a wide variety of services to the residents. Our services include access to technology, such as fax, photocopying, computers and Internet, resume-writing, a job board, exam proctoring and post-secondary information. We offer learning opportunities from September to June, and these change from year to year. This past year we offered English Language Learning, First Aid/CPR, Food Safety, Gun Safety, Social Media, Basic Computers, Learn and Grow (family literacy program), Spanish, Woodworking and Photography. We also have information sessions on issues such as drinking and driving, drug awareness, Wills and Estates, etc. These courses are advertised by a leaflet in your mail box twice a year.

How long have you been at PALS?
I started my position on Sept. 2, 2015 and have totally enjoyed every day. Like every job, there are some days that are more challenging than others, but I like my job!

During that time, in what ways have you seen PALS grown and become an integral part of Central Peace?
The board of directors and staff are passionate about helping others to succeed, and I feel that the growth has just started. The guidelines, which we must follow, changed in July 2015 and created many changes to what we could offer to our learners. I see that more people are inquiring as to what we offer and what we do, which is good. Last summer, PALS was out in the community at BBQs and local events, so if you see us please come say “Hi”. I feel that in the past few years, the staff and board of directors have worked hard to create partnerships with other agencies and organizations.

What, if anything, would you like to see developed in the future?
I would like to continue the partnerships that we have developed and create new ones. PALS is always looking for new ideas, volunteers and instructors. PALS is planning for a needs assessment in the spring of 2019 to see how we can better serve our learners.