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Recreation Outreach Centre founder retiring from theROC


Darlene Thompson

Darlene Thompson is retiring from her nearly 25-year career with theROC Youth Services (formerly Recreation Outreach Centre).

Passionate about supporting County youth, Thompson founded the centre in 2000 alongside her mother Marilyn Crowe and many supportive family and friends.

Starting as a volunteer, entrepreneur and visionary steward, Thompson created a dynamic program to serve children and youth and as the organization evolved, she became the first board chair and later its first executive director in 2010.

Since, she has led theROC through significant growth and accomplishments – bringing the organization from a small recreation-focused group on the heights to an extensive, multi-purpose provider at the more central location downtown Picton.

Today, theROC provides a range of barrier-free programs and services at no cost for youth and families, that encourage academic support, basic needs, leadership skills and social development.

“Under Darlene’s leadership, the ROC has fostered strong relationships with community partners, emphasizing the importance of collaborative community engagement which is critical to ensuring positive and successful outcomes for youth,” said Alison Kelly, ROC board chair. “Darlene’s commitment to the success of theROC has been a model of service that will be remembered and honoured for years to come.

“As we move forward in the next steps in theROC’s development, we are confident the organization will continue to grow to meet the complex and ever-changing needs of the County’s young people.”

Shannon Collins

Shannon Collins (née Claxton) has been appointed acting executive director of theROC with Thompson’s retirement effective June 12.

Collins has served as theROC’s Youth Inclusion Program Case Manager since January 2023. A graduate of Brock University with a Bachelor of Art in Psychology, she brings 12 years of social work experience, working for such organizations as Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society and Family and Children Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

Kelly notes her leadership will be vital during the transition while the board establishes its procedure for recruiting a permanent executive director.

“Collins has significant experience working with youth and families struggling with mental illness, addiction and homelessness and also has extensive training in supporting youth who have been, or are at risk of, being subject to sexual exploitation.

“Shannon’s in-depth knowledge of youth struggles in the community, theROC programs and services, and her demonstrable commitment to the mission and values of theROC, will ensure that the organization continues to run smoothly during this time of transition.”

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