Doug Tennant 2015

At Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) our Ends (mission) are to achieve the following:

Global End: People with disabilities live self-directed lives in the community at a justifiable cost:

  1. People are valued members of society;
  2. People decide how they live their lives, and make informed choices;
  3. The rights of people are protected.

During the fiscal year of April 2017 to April 2018, SHS worked hard to ensure that these Ends were met through our services, advocacy, and community relationships. Of significant importance in the achievement of our Ends was our more formalized partnership with our sister societies: The Semiahmoo Foundation (TSF) and Peninsula Estates Housing Society (PEHS). When the three societies work together, we call ourselves UNITI.


Lise Boughen, Director of Inclusive Living, and Liz Deschenes, Director of Community Services, will have more detailed reports on their services in their reports, but I did want to touch lightly on some of SHS’s services in relationship to the Ends (mission) of the organization.

Community Services

The redesign of our Employment Training and Support (ETS) services into services that will transcend a traditional day program and will support the connection of participants with true employment and personal development opportunities, while at the same time supporting social participation in their community was developed and launched during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The decision to redesign ETS was based on many factors, including the quality of life of the people we support and the need to meet the mandate of our employment services, which is to support people to find work in the community. Participants will take a 4-week Discover

Yourself process that will focus on experiences and personal discovery, with the goal of helping the person decide what employment/personal development/community connections they would like to pursue. ETS has now been divided into Transitions, a time-limited service focused on developing job skills through community and career exploration, and WISE Employment Solutions, an employment service focused on working with job hunters and employers to find successful matches that result in long-term employment in the community.

These changes directly address the following Sub-Ends of SHS:

1.1 People perform different social roles

1.4 People participate in the life of the community

2.4 People choose their work

2.4.1 People have paid employment opportunities

2.4.2 People have volunteer opportunities

Inclusive Living

There’s a very clear shift happening in community living when it comes to housing. People with disabilities (and their families) want to live in homes where they have as much independence as possible and are able to connect with family, friends, employment, and other aspects of their community. Semiahmoo House Society (under the umbrella of UNITI) has led the way in developing affordable and inclusive housing options that benefit the community. Chorus apartments would be an example of this. The apartment was completed in August of 2016 and the tenants have now been living there for close to two years. We have done full check-ins with the tenants supported by SHS who live there at the ½ year and one year anniversaries. The tenants report positive social lives and relationships, feeling welcome in their neighbourhood, and becoming competent in maintaining their own homes, to name but a few of the positive aspects that have resulted from people living in their own apartment. The creation of Chorus and future UNITI affordable and inclusive housing initiatives directly addresses the following Sub-Ends:

1.3 People live in integrated environments

1.4 People participate in the life of the community

2.3 People choose where and with whom they live

2.5 People choose and use their environments

3.6 People experience continuity and security


During the fiscal year 2017/2018, Semiahmoo House Society was very active in advocating for a municipal affordable housing strategy in Surrey that focuses on affordable and inclusive rental housing as we believe that this type of housing will address many of the housing needs for people who have disabilities as well as the needs of the general population in search of quality housing. The recently released Surrey Affordable Housing Strategy (April 2018) focuses on affordable rental housing and the creation of a fund that will be used to support housing projects such as Chorus. This is really good news for our future housing endeavours.

I have long believed that advocacy is best done by the people most directly related to the cause. This was true during the Civil Rights movement, and it is true for the Disability movement. I am very proud that SHS’s provides support to the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS) because SAS is doing amazing work in the community. They are making waves because their focus is not so much on themselves but on the needs of the community. They are shifting the power dynamic of disability by using their talents and resources to improve their community. During the past fiscal year they have brought wheelchairs to beaches, grants to all-ability parks, and spoken at a variety of conferences throughout the province. They’ve also met with city councillors, mayors, MLAs, MPs, and the Prime Minister himself while spreading the word that communities need to be physically and socially inclusive of people who have disabilities. Read more about their great work elsewhere in this Annual Report.

Community Relationships

Semiahmoo House Society believes that reciprocity with businesses and community partners creates strong relationships that benefit the community. We are fortunate to have the support of many businesses that hire people with disabilities, sponsor our events, and donate to support our cause. We feel it is important that we also give back to our community in a manner that supports our Ends. In the last fiscal year, our UNITI partner The Semiahmoo Foundation (TSF), created the Semiahmoo House Society Endowment Fund at the YMCA. This fund’s purpose is to support young people who have disabilities to access YMCA camps and services. SHS already support Kwantlen College with an annual scholarship for someone who has a disability to attend courses there. These investments help fulfil the following Sub-Ends:

2.5.2 People have recreational opportunities

2.6 People have educational opportunities

3.2 People have the best possible health

Another way in which SHS’s leadership interacts with their community is through our annual Food for Thought dinners. At these dinners, we invite our owners (which we define as the community) to a meal where we ask them questions that will help our Board develop the Ends of the organization. This past year, we invited local employers and asked the following questions:

  1. What are the challenges that people who have disabilities face and what needs to be done to overcome them?
  2. How can SHS help overcome these challenges?
  3. What is the role of Semiahmoo House Society in building a healthy and inclusive community?
  4. What motivates or would motivate you to provide employment to a person with a disability?

The lively conversation at dinner and thoughtful responses from our guests helped inform the Board about the direction the organization needs to go and helped inform senior staff as we developed our WISE Employment Solutions service.

The paradigm that SHS works from is an extension of the people we support: we want to give back to our partners and supporter and believe that in doing so, we are creating a stronger and more resilient community.

Performance and Quality Improvement

The Society has clearly defined Ends Policies that are created and refined by the Board of Directors through consultation with their owners (the community) and experts in the field, especially people who have disabilities. These Ends are the marching orders for the Executive Director, who must operationalize how the Ends will be achieved without violating legal, moral, or common sense statutes. The Performance and Quality Improvement (PQI) process gathers feedback, analyzes data, and makes recommendations for improvements and growth in achieving our Ends.

Our Ends, which have been featured in this report, typify the lives that people would like to live, which will be different for each person. Therefore, the outcomes of SHS are wholly based on each person’s outcomes, and the aggregate of this will demonstrate if we are achieving our Ends.

In addition to surveying people we support and their families, we build in extensive feedback systems for our staff using Accountability Based Management (ABM) practices, including clear role descriptions and frequent direct report meetings.

In fiscal year 2017/2018, we added an additional level of scrutiny to the work that we do by inviting the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo to lead a review of our services through the lens of our Global Ends “People with disabilities live self-directed lives in the community at a justifiable cost” and Ends 1 “People are valued members of society.” The Self-Advocates did this by visiting all of our services for people who have disabilities and interviewing individuals and groups of people we support about the aforementioned Ends. The data from these interviews was then gathered, themed, and made into a report that was presented to the Board in January of 2018. This research will be used by the Board when they are thinking about the Ends of the organization and by staff to improve our services. One clear message that came from the consultation was that people we support want new experiences and opportunities. One change that will be coming directly from the consultation is the creation of a Community Connector role that will be tasked with supporting building connections for people with the community.


We are fortunate to have thoughtful, dedicated, and passionate Board members. Our Board members take their role very seriously and actively pursue educational opportunities and consult with our owners to help them create the vision for SHS and its sister organizations. Rich Gorman, Board Chair, leads the Board by example and enables fair and lively discussion during Board meetings. Board members don’t always agree in discussions, but they always treat each other with respect!

I’d like to thank Baksho Ghangass for her years of dedication and service to the Boards of Semiahmoo House Society, Peninsula Estates Housing Society, and The Semiahmoo Foundation. Baksho was first appointed to the Board for the 2008/2009 year and has completed three 3-year elected terms as a Board member.

I’d also like to thank Jan Holt, who is retiring to the Sunshine Coast after 6 years as a Board member. Jan has a strong understanding of the fiduciary duty of Board members and asked great questions when we discussed complex issues.

SHS is fortunate to have the support of a great group of senior staff who lead by example and take on projects for the betterment of SHS and the people we support. Lise Boughen, Director of Inclusive Living, ensures the people we support in staffed residential homes, shared living arrangements, and independent supported living arrangements have the opportunity to live good lives of their choosing. Liz Deschenes, Director of Community Services, is leading the redesign of our community inclusion services so there is more choice and people are supported

to be connected to the community. Stephanie Green, Director of Human Resources, is implementing Accountability Based Management system that will clarify roles and accountabilities of all staff members. Ellen Powell, Director of Finance, is developing technology systems that will strengthen SHS’s relationships with stakeholders, while at the same time overseeing our financial assets and systems. Louise Tremblay, Director of Development, oversaw our refreshed Taste of BC Gala that saw over $100,000 raised to support affordable housing for people who have disabilities. I’d like to welcome Seema Tripathi, Associate Director of Community Services, to our team. Seema has a track record in developing employment services that successfully match employers and employees. I’d also like to welcome aboard, Diane Nimmo as the Executive Administration Manager. She will be supporting the Board and myself and oversee Front Desk Associates.

SHS’s managers, supervisors, and front-line staff members do exceptional work in a compassionate and creative manner. They consistently go above and beyond in the work that they do.

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 funding does not fully cover the type of services that we want to offer. SHS is made stronger because of our stakeholder community, our members, and the families of people we support. Thank you all for your support.

Respectfully submitted,

Doug Tennant, Chief Executive Officer, UNITI

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