For several years now, one of the guiding principles that I have come to value is compassion. That’s because with compassion we can achieve just about anything. With compassion, we can create an entire community; we can make a difference in the lives of people; and we can fulfill our dreams and facilitate those of the people around us. With compassion, our senses awaken allowing us to perceive the world from various lenses and really embrace the diversity around us.

In my work with The Semiahmoo Foundation, I witness compassion every day in its many subtle forms. I often talk about the support workers and their leaders, at Semiahmoo House Society, who provide direct services to people with disabilities.  Their work is magical and beyond amazing, but don’t take my word for it. The mother of a young woman who attends programs says it all:

And thank you for each and every day , that our daughter smiles because of what she did on that day … BUT , it is all the parents , families and friends that come to pick up these men and women, that truly have the biggest smiles…and makes me smile even more !!! You have a wonderful team of people that work there, and that starts from ALL the wonderful care givers there with our young men and women,( and I watch and observe if only for a few minutes and see what a wonderful positive impact they have with all our sons and daughters…, I hope they realize how important they really are !! and right to the staff upstairs in the office and right to the front desk… thank you , thank you , thank you, and I thank God every day for this wonderful place.

–“Truly spoken from the heart”, Anonymous.

This year, I observed compassion at Semiahmoo House Society in another remarkable way. Compassion is a value and, as any value, its tangibility is detectable through subtle deeds like those described by the anonymous mother in the above statement. However, it occurred to me last November while I was attending the Chorus ribbon cutting ceremony that compassion was concretized by the completion of the development.

Chorus could not have been possible without the listening and passion of so many community stakeholders and the auspiciousness of time collaborating to overcome obstacles in creating this affordable and inclusive housing development.  It took 13 years to plan and develop and, at times, some of us wondered if it would ever come to fruition. As it turns out, the timing was perfect with all 71 units tenanted within weeks without much promotion, except through word of mouth. The development is now home to neighbours of various backgrounds, ages and abilities.

The work of staff at Semiahmoo House Society and the realization of the Chorus apartments are testaments that compassion is powerful. In compassion, there is the passion necessary to break barriers. Compassion listens. It promotes self-awareness, reflection and service. Compassion is a spiritual and material ingredient that is essential in making a difference and in creating an inclusive community.

By Louise Tremblay, The Semiahmoo Foundation

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.

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