When we meet with families, staff, volunteers or community partners for the first time and they ask what Recreation and Leisure is all about, we usually start with explaining our history. We then go on to explain that we are a completely fundraised program that receives no government funding and relies solely on grants, donations, user fees and fundraisers throughout the year. This explanation is provided so that others can truly grasp and appreciate how lucky we are at Semiahmoo House Society to have these opportunities. Recreation and Leisure simply would not exist without the generous donations and hard work of others who raise the much needed funds that so many people benefit from.
We go on to explain that we offer a multitude of programs ranging from out of school care, youth and adult clubs, fine arts programs, fitness and well-being classes, photography, transit training, social media safety, school break camps, trips (local and international), dances and much more! But that’s just the surface and there’s so much more happening than singing, dancing and sports!
Recreation & Leisure offers friendships, inclusion and a sense of belonging. If you were to ask any Recreation and Leisure participant why they come to the programs they would probably answer with one or all of these answers: it’s fun, we get to hang out, we can goof around and be ourselves, and I like making friends! Ask what they’ve gained and the answers are endless. From friendships, improved self-esteem and self-confidence, learning new skills, showcasing talents to getting involved in the community; these programs offer far more than what meets the eye. One young woman said, “Semiahmoo House Society has changed my life. I have somewhere to go and I have a safe place to be.”
Families too have expressed they do not know what they would do without the program. While it offers mom and dad time to get things done, it’s ultimately about the benefits their children are receiving. One mother explained, “This program has been totally invaluable. My son started in this program as a shy, young, dependent child who was nervous about going somewhere different without me. Today, he is outgoing, confident, and quite independent.”
This program is completely person and family centred so the changes you see to our programs are the result of the feedback received from those accessing the services. We are pleased to report that over the past year and thanks to your dollars at work, we have been able to continue offering these programs and services to well over 150 participants and families.
Recreation and Leisure staff have been openly discussing where our funds come from so that everyone can fully appreciate that these opportunities are the result of many people that graciously support our program. There has been a large emphasis on teaching about giving back to others and why this act is so important. In the months to come, you may receive a request for pennies, change or recycling. Recreation & Leisure participants have been challenged to give back. We have a few families in need and we are joining forces to raise some funds so we can provide an experience to each family where memories can be made!
Thank you for your ongoing support!
By Julie Thiele, 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.