At Semiahmoo House Society (SHS), our mission is to achieve the following:
People with disabilities live self-directed lives in the community at a justifiable cost:
- People are valued members of society;
- People decide how they live their lives, and make informed choices;
- The rights of people are protected.
Quite a mission, but one that when achieved will mean a community that is healthier and happier for all. The actions and accomplishments of the people we support, our Board, our staff, and our volunteers have helped us get closer to succeeded at this mission. This report will detail some of the things we did in 2014 to help make our community more inclusive.
At our annual retreat in October, with excellent facilitation from April English, the Board reviewed its four sets of policies: Ends (the mission of the organization), Executive Limitations, Board-Management Delegation, and Governance Process. A Policy Review Working Group made up of Board members and senior staff then revised the policies for Board approval based on the work done at the retreat. The Board also met with our “owners” during the year. Since our last AGM in June 2014, they met with major supporters at our second annual Food for Thought Dinner and leaders of multicultural organizations. The Board meets with different groups from the community to learn about different perspectives on inclusion and to think about the role of SHS in the community. We discuss three main questions at these meetings:
- What are the signs of a healthy and inclusive community?
- What are the challenges that people who have disabilities face and what needs to be done to overcome them?
- What is the role of Semiahmoo House Society in building a healthy and inclusive community?
A side benefit of these meetings is that we are able to educate segments of our community about SHS and the benefit of an inclusive community.
Programs and Services
A more detailed report on SHS’s programs and services by Lise Boughen is included elsewhere in this Annual Report, but I wanted to touch on some highlights from the year:
- The Acquired Brain Injury Services team organized and participated in a 12 session aphasia “train the trainer” program. This endeavour was funded by the Peace Arch Hospital & Community Health Foundation.
- The Community Support Network, which helps find people homes in the community, hired an additional employee and received 11 new referrals.
- Customized Employment helped secure employment for 20 people we support.
- Employment Training and Support (ETS) welcomed 10 graduates from Personal Development and continued to train people for employment in the community.
- Personal Development welcomed 12 new participants and 10 people graduated to ETS.
- Residential staff welcomed people to their new homes and worked hard to help them settle in.
- Family Services manager Wendi Mackintosh advocated for people who have disabilities and their families in the community.
- Peninsula Child Care supported children in Day Care, Infant Toddler, and School Age programs while achieving a balanced budget.
- Recreation & Leisure Services welcome new manager Lindsay Green and ran highly successful new summer programs.
We continued to grow as an organization because people and their families have been given more choice in the services they want to enroll in and they are choosing SHS. Program space and staff recruitment are issues on our horizon because of this.
Relationship with other Organizations
Inclusion is a two way street and it is vital that SHS work with other community organizations and businesses to help build a healthy and inclusive community. Some of the organizations that we worked with and partnered with in 2014 include the Surrey Board of Trade, Inclusion BC, Peace Arch Hospital & Community Health Foundation, the BC CEO Network, Surrey’s Local Immigration Partnership, SurreyCares, and the Seniors Come Share Society. These partnerships help us learn about community needs and create opportunities for people we support to be included in employment, recreation, and other facets of belonging.
Person Centered Thinking (PCT) is a philosophy and set of skills that have transformed SHS over the past 10 years. Our two PCT trainers, Nolda Ware and Lynne Ford, train people internally and externally in Person Centered Practices. All our employees take this training and we also train students from Stenberg College and staff from other organizations around the province. In 2014 we developed a plan for the creation of a Centre for Compassionate Learning that would help spread the word of PCT and enable SHS to develop internal training expertise. As part of this plan, we invited senior staff from Fraser Health to attend one of our training sessions and visited them to learn more about their “Patient Centered” philosophy. We also facilitated a PCT workshop with education assistants from Surrey School Board on one of their Pro-D days. Our goal is to spread the PCT word and generate revenue for the organization in the future.
The Semiahmoo Foundation
As Louise Tremblay writes in her Development Report elsewhere in the Annual Report, “Although The Semiahmoo Foundation (TSF) is a separate corporate entity, it is inextricably connected with Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) and aligned with its vision, mission, guiding principles and strategic objectives.” TSF has hired two people we support as part of their team, been the face of SHS at many community events, and built a social media presence that advocates, through stories and education, for people who have disabilities and our organization.
Inclusive and Affordable Apartment Project
Our Inclusive and Affordable Apartment Project, which features a 71 unit building with 20 units for people who have disabilities and 51 units at affordable rental rates for the general community went from the drawing board to reality in 2014. Rezoning was approved by the City of Surrey and we secured over $1.5 million in grants from BC Housing and Vancity. Houses have been demolished and excavation for the new apartment should begin before summer.
The pressing demand for innovative housing projects is clear to me. We have had over 100 people express an interest in the 20 suites we will be renting and leasing to people who have disabilities. The old options of staying at home or living in a group home no longer satisfy people with disabilities who want the same living possibilities everyone else in society has.
Our Board members take their roles seriously and put in many volunteer hours to educate themselves and meet with our owners so they are able to create a vision for the future that will benefit people who have disabilities and our community. As the Inclusive and Affordable Apartment Project ramped up to ground-breaking this year, they took on more responsibilities and made decisions that enabled us to keep moving forward. Rich Gorman, Board Chair for 2015, did yeoman’s work spreading the word about SHS and our apartment project to Surrey officials and other community stakeholders. He has also ably led the Board through important discussions and deliberations during meetings and takes on many responsibilities at SHS events. We are fortunate to have Rich and the rest of the Board members at the helm of the organization. I would also like to extend a special thank you to Councillor Mary Martin who is completing her third and final term on the Board in June 2015. Mary has brought wisdom and experience to the Board and has done much to build our reputation in the community. She will be missed.
In SHS’s Directors Team of Lise Boughen, Ellen Powell, Stephanie Green, Louise Tremblay, and Casandra Fletcher we have a dedicated and caring group who mentor others through their strong work ethic and person-centred approach to relationships with colleagues, staff members, and the people who use our services. I am grateful for all they do to and the long hours they put in to make our organization what it is.
SHS is built on the staff members who work directly with the people we support, and our managers, supervisors, and front-line staff do exceptional work in a compassionate and creative manner.
The support we receive from volunteers, donors, and our community allows us to create services that meet the needs of the people we support at a time when there are gaps in the funding we receive from our funding bodies.
All of the efforts of people who are part of SHS’s extended community, including our membership and the families of people we support have helped us get closer to fulfilling our mission and having a community where everyone has value and belongs.