Diversity Is Tranformative

Board

In the organizational context, diversity if often defined in the legal terms of the Canadian Employment Equity Act which mandates employers to remove barriers to employment for four designated groups: Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities, and women. While this type of inclusiveness is very important, I view diversity in its broader definition to include age, gender, transgender, race, ethnicity, physical and intellectual ability, sexual orientation, religion, opinion, social custom, thinking pattern, personality profile, and more.

In my role as Board Chair, I also welcome a different type of diversity on the Board of Directors.  When appointing new board members, I look for different talents, expertise and experience, but above all I look for different perspectives that can culminate into healthy conflicts when discussing issues relevant to the governance of the Society. I know we’ve done our best work when everyone around the Boardroom table has had a chance to present their ideas and voice their points of view. And I know that we’ve done an even better job when these ideas and points of view are divergent.

It is true that it would be more comfortable to agree with everyone on every topic, but not only is this unfeasible, I don’t believe this Society would be what it is today if that were the case. The very genesis of Semiahmoo House Society was based in conflict: the tension between parents of children with developmental disabilities and a system that insisted on institutionalization. Loving families living with disabilities had different notions than government and the medical community about what was best for them.

It’s not that the people in authority had bad intentions. It’s just that they perceived inclusion from the medical model: people with disabilities need to be fixed. Conversely, the families viewed their situation from the social model: disability is a human construct imposed by the environment. I realize that these statements are simplistic given the complexity of the issues. Nevertheless, they serve to prove the point that if parents had not used their inherent diversity to advocate for change back then, our society would not be so inclusive today. People with cognitive disabilities would be even more marginalized and would not have the opportunity to demonstrate that, given the chance, they are capable to learn, grow, integrate and contribute to society.

As a society, we can achieve way more when we embrace diversity and realize that it is unifying rather than being divisive.

Rich Gorman, Board Chair

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. 

The Semiahmoo Foundation exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

Social Power and Reciprocity Create Strong and Diverse Communities

SAS 1

The Self Advocates of Semiahmoo

Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) staff members work hard to achieve the organization’s End (mission), that “people with disabilities live self-directed lives in the community.” We work hard to support people finding jobs, recreational opportunities, and homes in their local community. This work largely involves SHS contacting local businesses, recreational centres, and home owners/renters to see if they are open to having people who have disabilities as employees, participants, or home sharers. Many are, and they help make our community diverse and strong.

In the work that SHS does, we are not unlike many other Community Living organizations, seeking community-minded businesses and people who buy into our vision of inclusion. However, in the vast majority of the work that we do promoting inclusion, the people we support are the “outsider” we are helping to become part of the community.  In this relationship, the power inherently lies with the people choosing whether or not someone belongs at a workplace, in a gym, in their home. I’ve recently been thinking about how we might turn the power in this relationship around. How can we support people who have disabilities to have more power when it comes to employment, social issues, and housing?

When it comes to employment, having people with disabilities in ownership and leadership positions shifts the dominant paradigm of their “place” at work. While not common, there are some examples that have demonstrated the positives that come from this model. Tim’s Place, a restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is owned by Tim Harris, a man who happens to have Down syndrome. Billed as the “World’s Friendliest Restaurant,” Tim’s Place provides members of the community with jobs and good food. Closer to home, Richmond HandyCrew Cooperative is owned by workers who have developmental disabilities. They make the decisions and share in the profits of their work and hire members of the community to work with and for them.  Both of these examples show people who have disabilities making their community stronger by running businesses that provide services and add to the local economy.

When one looks at the history of civil rights around the world, movements take off when the people most affected lead the fight for their own rights. The Self Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS) promote the rights of people who have disabilities through advocacy, education, and action. At present they are spreading the word about voting to the people of British Columbia through workshops and presentations. SAS is also an asset to the community as they work on projects that make the world better for all people. A recent example of this is their work making local beaches more accessible by fundraising for beach wheelchairs and working with local governments and business to ensure these beach wheelchairs are available for all local citizens who have mobility issues. SAS holds a position of strength in the community through giving a voice to people who have disabilities and for leading initiatives that make their whole community better.

There are many barriers to finding quality affordable housing in Greater Vancouver for the general population. There are even more barriers for people who have disabilities who are looking for the same thing. Chorus, the affordable and inclusive rental apartment building that SHS build in partnership with The Semiahmoo Foundation (TSF) and Peninsula Estates Housing Society (PEHS), is the first purpose built affordable rental apartment built in decades in Surrey. The fact that it was built because of housing needs of people who have disabilities but supplies much needed housing for the general community gives social strength to the tenants who have disabilities. The tenants now have a place to call home and are in a position of giving back by welcoming friends and family into their apartments.

A few years ago, as part of the collaborative process to renew SHS’s philosophy statement, I conducted some workshops with people we support to find out what ideas we should include in the statement. Invariably, in the many groups of people that I consulted with, the idea that people with disabilities have a right and a desire to give back to their communities was strongly expressed.  In retrospect, this should not be surprising as one of the tenets of good relationships is reciprocity. Imagine always being in the position of having to accept the help of others. Imagine not having the right to give back. Imagine not being expected to give back. We included the idea of “giving back” in our philosophy statement and we strive to support people to give back and to take leadership roles in their community. In employment, social issues, and housing, when all people have the right to give back and are supported to do so, our community is stronger.

Semiahmoo House Society’s Philosophy Statement

 Semiahmoo House Society believes that people who have disabilities should be valued and included fully in their communities, with the same rights and responsibilities as all people living in Canada.

We believe that all people have the right to control their own lives through personal choices about relationships, jobs, living arrangements, spirituality, travelling, and recreational activities, and that all people have the right to give back to their communities through volunteering and helping others. Everyone is entitled to live a happy, full and meaningful life.

We also believe that these rights can be reinforced and protected by making sure that people are connected to and supported by friends, family, staff, and the community.

By Doug Tennant, Executive Director, Semiahmoo House Society

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. The Semiahmoo Foundation exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

 

 

 

 

Vive la Différence!

weWork2

The theme for this newsletter is diversity. Diversity is the dichotomy between celebrating the uniqueness of individuals and embracing the collectiveness of community. It is about diverse people coming together and achieving wondrous feats, and as a result making a real difference in the community.

We live in a globalized world. The propagation of technology enables us to connect with people from every corner of the world in a blink, giving the word community an expanded meaning and making boundaries less relevant.  Trying to keep diversity out by building walls, whether they are metaphoric or material, is both futile and ludicrous.

Globalization means that business leaders face increased competitiveness. Smart leaders understand this and they invite diversity in their organization.  Creating an inclusive work environment allows admission to a greater talent pool of skilled, productive and loyal employees who, by virtue of their diversity, can make connections with a wide variety of stakeholders, thereby securing a larger market share and ensuring sustained economic equilibrium.

The greatest barrier for diversity groups to access employment is discrimination. This is particularly true for people who have disabilities. Semiahmoo House Society’s Customized Employment Services break through these barriers by connecting potential employers and employees together. The results have been tremendous with many inclusive employers reporting that hiring a person with a disability was the best decision they ever made and underlining that their new employees, were courteous, took directions well, were conscientious, contributed to the bottom line and promoted comradery in the workplace.

Providing employment to people with disabilities benefits the individual, the organization and society as a whole. Many people with disabilities keenly desire to earn a living and become productive members of society and they should be given every opportunity to fulfill these aspirations. Inclusive employers have an important role because sufficient evidence supports that productive, gainfully employed and independent people with disabilities contribute to the growth of the economy. Conversely, excluding people with disabilities from full citizenship, not only exhausts scarce social resources, it results in an opportunity cost to the overall economy, exponentially year after year.

That being said, creating an inclusive workplace is not as simple as to say, “We’re an inclusive employer because we’ve set some diversity objectives.”  People naturally resist change and discriminate. For successful integration, leaders need to create an inclusive culture by expressing their strong commitment to a diverse workforce and ensuring that this commitment percolates through the hierarchy.

In my next two blogs, I will talk about the origin of discrimination and how it can be overcome and the role of leadership in creating an inclusive culture.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with the words of Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching circa 600 BC:

The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself. The more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. The Semiahmoo Foundation exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

By Louise Tremblay, The Semiahmoo Foundation

Motivated by Love of People

Dorothy

WE SINCERELY THANK YOU, our Semiahmoo House Society Volunteer Team!  Since this agency’s inception in 1958, volunteers have been at the core of its success.  The parents, who felt a need to provide community opportunities and education for their family members, created the embryo that has grown into adulthood as one of the forward reaching agencies in Canada.  They, as volunteers, created Semiahmoo House Society. They were our first Board of Directors with sleeves rolled up literally to make good things happen.  Our present day Directors are no less valiant in keeping us on the path of quality services, advocacy and support.  It takes rigorous work and deep commitment to keep us moving forward into that bright and promising place where we would all like to be.  Thank you to our first friends.

Sprinkled throughout Semiahmoo House Society are lovely people who come from their separate places in high schools, colleges and universities, workplaces, and home, in order to add their brand to the good things that happen here.  They come with enthusiasm and experience that add to the dimensions of the fine people who look to us for support in living good lives, surrounded by good people.  Almost every week, there are inquiries about what would be required in becoming a sterling volunteer at Semiahmoo House Society.  And regularly fine people join us to do what we know best – how we thank them.

It would be remiss to not recognize the amazing staff team who give steadily of their talents and vision as they immerse in best practices to follow the lead of an excellent Executive Director.  We thank him for also being a visionary, collaborating with Board and Staff alike in bringing about the good things enjoyed by us all.  Extra time and lively vision may be above expectation in a regular job requirement, and so when given, are voluntary in nature.  Thus paid staff become volunteers of quality as well.  All turn to you with thanks.

Volunteering love of people, love of work and love of purpose makes this agency what it is and what it promises yet to become.  The good men and women who rely on that love and direction can also rely on our continuing to give as we celebrate life together.

By Dorothy Gurney, Volunteer, Volunteer Coordinator

Dorothy Gurney  is a tireless volunteer who recruits and initiates volunteers to do wonderful work with people with disabilities. Thank you, Dorothy for all you do.

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. 

The Semiahmoo Foundation exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

Attitude, Gratitude

garys-sketch

Gary as sketched by Jasper

Do you remember what you ate for lunch yesterday? How about where you put the house keys? Or the specs you are wearing on top of your head right now? Or your password for your email? Where you parked? Did you flush the toilet or did you feed the fish?  Don’t worry if you can’t because neither do I. There is a laundry list of things or events that we tend to forget every day and it’s a shame that most of them are the most important items in our lives.

This leads me so a short story about a friend of mine named Gary. One Sunny September morning, the crew was having its rounds to the local McDonald’s in Langley. We fell in line as usual; we ordered the same set of coffee as usual;, we sat in our favourite hub as usual and read The Province and 24 Hours as usual. All was bright and dandy and sounded like our typical Monday morning routine until I heard this phrase, “I KNOW YOU!” in a volume a bit louder than the usual, a pitch higher than the usual and a tone more excited than the usual. Then I told myself, “I know that voice!”

It was the voice of our resident septuagenarian, Gary. He was pointing his finger at this man, an older man—I’m guessing he was in his 80’s—with a short silver mane and a snugly knitted sweater, sitting with a woman, enjoying what seemed to be an uneventful breakfast in peace until Gary somehow made it more… well, eventful. I got curious and went closer to eavesdrop at their conversation. Gary repeatedly said, “I know this man!” “I know you!” At that point, I started to worry that the man and the woman were getting uncomfortable at the sight of a tall and slender 70-year old guy getting all giddy at seeing them.

I approached Gary as he was apparently talking to me and he indeed was talking to me, he said, “Jasper, I know this man!” I was ready to apologize to the couple for the suddenness and randomness of what’s happening but the man beat me into it. He calmly asked Gary, “How do you know me?”

Gary hastily responded without a buckle, “You were a bus driver! Last time I saw you was…” Gary then started to look up, and count to himself, trying to use all the fingers that he has. “29 years ago, 1987. Jasper, am I right? Am I right? 29 years ago?” I was just dumbfounded at what is happening and did an uncertain nod as if I did my math. In reality, I didn’t know; it was a courtesy nod.

The man then quickly responded “That’s right! I WAS a bus driver! And I retired sometime in the mid 90’s. How do you know me? And why do you remember me?”

Gary replied with a big grin on his face and said, “Because you were the bus driver when I hurt my right ankle. Here, this foot, my right foot,” said Gary as he raised his pants and lowered his socks to show his formerly hurt limb. “You stopped the bus and helped me to stand up. You said I sprained my ankle from one of the steps of the old bus. You helped me. That’s why I remember you. I just want to say, ‘THANK YOU’ for helping me.” Then Gary just casually walked away as if nothing happened, ordered his usual small coffee with double cream and double Splenda, sat on his usual corner, read his usual newspaper and proceeded with his usual day.

The lady that the man was having breakfast with and I were just watching the whole spectacle unfold in awe.

The 20-year retired bus driver did not have the chance to react to what happened. As he struggled to keep his twinkly eyes from tearing up, he did not even have the chance to say, “you are welcome.” (He did after a while, before we left for our work sites.) I noticed that the woman started crying and jokingly said to her—I can only assume—husband, “Aw, you did one good thing in your life”

The whole 5-minute interaction that I witnessed seemed like a lifetime of my wondering, “Do I remember enough? Have I said thank you enough?” I thought of asking Gary what he eats so that I can have even a fraction of the sharpness of his memory. It made me realize how nice it can be if we can consciously remember events, memories around us or at least try to remember these things that either put a smile on our faces or happiness in others.

Gary continues to teach me every day how to be grateful for even the tiniest bits of our days, whether he found a penny in the lot, a beer can in the bush, or win the lottery. I am trying my best, although it is futile, to consciously make an effort to remember things around me like Gary does. One thing is for sure, this moment that I saw, this moment that made me believe that gratitude and humanity are still alive amidst all the terrible news we get every day and this beautiful moment shared by two great souls nearing the twilight years of their lives is something that I will never forget. Thank you!

By Jasper Macabulos, Semiahmoo House Society

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. 

The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

A Fourteen-Year Dream

michaela

They say “Dreams” do come true.

I believe this, because today twenty young adults with developmental disabilities, both intellectual and physical, are now living in their own apartments and can call this home.  They are all living their “DREAM”. This dream all began about thirteen years ago when Semiahmoo House Society collectively with its employees and Board Members reached out and spoke to families of individuals they supported to gather information and thoughts on where they would like to see their young adults in the future and what would that look like.

Involving neighbours, the community at large, governments at all levels and all those that could and would have a vested interest in a Housing project such as the one they were dreaming about were asked for their input, concerns and visions.

Great consideration was given to making the end product an ALL INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY.  A place where the young, the old, children, people from different cultures and backgrounds, working individuals and retirees could all live together and call CHORUS home.

As the concept of this project moved forward, Semiahmoo House Society, again, invited families of the individuals they supported and the individuals themselves to sit down and brainstorm further, to identify outcomes.

Some of the key outcomes were:

  • a place where individuals would feel at home
  • a place where individuals could and would feel safe
  • a place where the individuals would be supported according to their needs
  • a place where there would be easy access to transportation, shopping, medical and recreational activities
  • a place where the families of the individuals would know that their loved ones could safely, comfortably, affordably and happily live the rest of their lives, if their family was not there to support them
  • a place that would include people from all walks of life in a welcoming environment
  • a place that would meet the desired living arrangements of individuals, be it living on their own in a studio or one bedroom suite, or a two or three bedroom unit to share with their best friend or relative

As this type of housing for individuals with developmental disabilities is on the forefront of new and innovative housing options, moving further away from institutions and group homes, much research and careful consideration was required to fulfill the dream of an All Inclusive Community.

Once the ground was broken, the construction portion of the project was started and all stakeholders were on board, the process of selecting possible candidates for this innovative housing initiative began.

As this was to be an all inclusive community, screening of all residents would be an important part of the process as would screening of the individuals to be supported.

I can only speak at this point on a personal level.  Being an aging parent of an individual with intellectual limitations, physical limitations and some significant medical issues, we needed to be assured that all of these would be recognized and incorporated into the support plan and that the supports would be in place to ensure that she would be safe and happy in her own home.

This process was accomplished by developing life plans for our daughter and the other developmentally disabled individuals who were interested in calling Chorus home.  In their plans, their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, disabilities, likes and dislikes, and friendships were identified, to name a few.  The importance of this process would have a significant impact in providing a community that was all inclusive.

Chorus has not only provided a home for individuals with disabilities, but more importantly they have provided a home for individuals who want to live in a community that welcomes and thrives on diversity.

For us, knowing that the choice we made to have our daughter move in to Chorus was the right one, not only for our loved one, but for us as parents. This cannot be measured except by the joy and happiness that is seen on her face.  When individuals are asked how they like living in their own apartment, with great enthusiasm their response is always  “I LOVE IT”. That speaks volumes.  When you are with them in the halls or the elevator, they greet other residents and each other as if they were best friends.  Always respectful, caring and authentic, interested in each others well-being.

Today I see Chorus and the model it is for an “All Inclusive Community” as an inspiration for other communities throughout the province and country to try to emulate.

I can now say my “Dream” did come true.

By Paddi Robinson, Mother of Michaela Robinson

A Community Built with Purpose

Wolf head shot.png

Working closely with Semiahmoo House Society for the Chorus project, it was easy to see early on what a profound impact this building would have not only for their membership but for the community of Surrey.  From the Development aspect of real estate you hardly see any purpose built rentals being built whether you are in Surrey or elsewhere in the lower mainland, let alone affordable rental and specific suites for their members.

To make Chorus possible, the Semiahmoo House Society had to get all hands on deck through a development company, a consultant specializing with rental strategies and BC Housing.  Through this entire process the model of having 60-year leases, as well as affordable rentals for their members and the community, made Chorus a long-term win for the community and of course for Semiahmoo House Society.

The impact for their members and the surrounding community was instant with the move-ins last summer, from their members having the opportunity to live on their own, to providing affordable rentals to the community.  The biggest role however it played is it proved that a model like this could work with enough dedication and willingness from private and municipal sector to provide independent living for the developmentally challenged community.  Proud to have played a small part in something that started shaping over a decade ago.

Wolf-Christian Stange

wolfchristianstange@gmail.com

Strengthening Relations through Socialization

alex-sas

Semiahmoo House Society, (SHS) has identified and addressed the need for support for socially responsible housing for persons with disabilities (PWD). SHS has worked for over a decade to build an inclusive apartment building, where a true representation of community is provided affordable homes. This apartment building, Chorus, has 71 units, 20 of which are for PWD. These 20 units are throughout the building promoting inclusion and natural friendships to blossom. All of the PWD living there do so independently. They do not have live-in staff. Instead, there is 24 hour support as needed. This allows the PWD to be as independent as possible knowing that there is someone available if needed to modify or support a task.

Having the opportunity to learn and grow is critical to everyone, and living at Chorus it can be seen in leaps and bounds. As an example, there is a young person living at Chorus who upon moving in experienced an overabundance of support from his family.  This young person, with the help of the staff at Chorus, was able to help this young person gain the autonomy that they had craved. They did this by working together to show how the person could be independent and safe at the same time.  The young person is able to ask for help when they need it as opposed to, like so many families and supports out there, being continually offered support. The latter does not inspire independence and can lead to a stifling of one’s life in all areas. Knowing that you can live on your own successfully has instilled a sense of ability to all areas of this person’s life as seen by their friends and advocacy group.  Choice to decide and either succeed or learn from is a right that we are all entitled to. Learning from what didn’t work is often something that is not presented to PWD in real life situations.

There are several PWD who have very active social lives, living at Chorus. With minimal support of the staff, these PWD are able to balance their schedules without missing meals, appointments and get to their activities without feeling overwhelmed or incapable of having it all. This support looks like, preparation of fridge calendars, texting reminders, meal prep and support in making phone calls, to name a few. Again, it is important to acknowledge that independent living is not a black or white area. There are varying ways to support a person to be independent and have a full life.

The comradery that can be seen by the friends, all living at Chorus and with PWD, can be seen in many ways. For the first time, many of them in their late 20’s and older, they are hosting their own Christmas and New Year’s Parties. This holds a lot of pride for them, their families, SHS. A rite of passage that many people take for granted is now available to the PWD living at Chorus. The relationships of the PWD living at Chorus have deepened as their roles for each other are changing. They support each other in casual but critical and meaningful ways like trips to the grocery store and navigating bus lines. PWD living at Chorus are leading by example. They started with independence with support through Chorus staff and are now showing their peers independence with support through these small but important gestures. This care and assistance will not stop with the people living with Chorus. PWD living there take these gestures to their work, their communities and their friends and family.

Chorus has been tagged as a flagship model for other organizations and builders across North America. This model will provide opportunities for countless others as more inclusive buildings are built. PWD living in Chorus and PWD living in the community can feel confident that more housing options like this are their right, as SHS is proving it to be a success.

By Alexander Magnussen

Chair of Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo and Board Member of SHS

 

Doors Are Open

Paul Wheeler Photo

I am deeply honoured to support the nomination of Semiahmoo House Society in the Social Innovator category for its Chorus development project, specifically for the assessment criterion entitled Challenges.

To complete the recently opened Chorus Project, Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) faced and surmounted a great many interesting and, occasionally, very difficult challenges. I will highlight key challenges that were overcome.

The first, and most important, challenge that was faced and met was the desires and dreams of people, specifically people who live with cognitive disabilities, and their families. Here’s the challenge they presented. Until the early 2000’s options for residential support for people with cognitive challenges in British Columbia were either in group homes or remaining living with aging parents. The Society realized the extremely expensive and restrictive group home model of support was simply unsustainable and that ageing parents could not indefinitely be a residential answer. SHS needed to learn what the appropriate long term solutions were. As it always does in these circumstances, SHS determined that, while learning from other experts, it would need primarily to get answers from those whose lives were affected, the individuals and their families. To this end SHS gathered 40 individuals with cognitive disabilities and their families. Using trained facilitators, the Society learned that the preference of 39 families and, separately, 39 individuals was for the individuals to live in their own apartments, close to the day programs they needed and with life skills support coming to them as needed. An ongoing consultative process continued to reveal that this was the goal the individuals and families wanted the Society to meet. Now, that was a challenge.

Why was this desire/dream such a challenge? Why was it the most important one? The answer to the latter question is found in the reality that SHS only exists to support the needs, dreams, desires of people with disabilities and their families in the community. Thus, when the people revealed what they wanted it became the mission of SHS to bring it about. Why was this “mission” such a challenge? In 2003/4 when the Society decided to stand with the people and take on their mission, there were, at least in Surrey and White Rock, no allies, no funding, no precedents, no zoning or municipal support. If the Society was going to be the champion that supported these citizens to live in their own communities, in residences of their choice, then it would have to start alone and create the answers. That is exactly what Semiahmoo House Society did. Chorus opened in the fall of 2016 and over twenty of those original 40 people now have a home of their choosing in their community.

Compared to that most important challenge all the rest were secondary. Each challenge that followed was about pushing on doors and waiting for some to open. Semiahmoo House Society has:

  • Built partnerships with government agencies
    • Community Living BC – to work with individuals/families and provide some funding
    • BC Housing – to plan together, obtain some funding
    • City of Surrey – for zoning and planning support
  • Built partnerships with financial institutions such as Vancouver Community Credit Union and the Vancouver Foundation
  • Obtained land to build on – converting old assets in new more appropriate assets
  • Found, learned from, and consulted with experts in community development
  • Worked with local politicians to build a willingness and legal framework to build this specialized project
  • Put together funding to build this integrated rental housing program – no small feat considering that all developers consulted claimed it was not financially possible to build a rental building that could support itself – SHS has done it.
  • And on, and on, and on.

The challenges have been 13 years long. Many times, there have been total road blocks and the Society quietly persevered believing that it had a mission in it’s commitment to people who needed a place to live in their own community, near their own friends and families.

Many secondary challenges, one true challenge, all overcome through perseverance, hard work, community building and faithfulness to their constituents and their community. That’s why Semiahmoo House Society deserves this “social innovator” award for which I’m pleased to nominate them.

By Paul Wheeler, B.S.W., M.Div.