I was elected Chair of the Board of Directors for Semiahmoo House Society on September 17, 2018 after first being appointed to the organization as a Director in October 2015. At that time, I had retired after 32 years in the Surrey School District. For once in my life, I had the amazing gift of time and thought that the work of Semiahmoo House fit well with my beliefs and practice. Living and working in the community for most of my life, I had long been aware of Semiahmoo House. What I didn’t know, however, about its programs, services, vision, outreach, and advocacy was astounding! I also had to learn a whole new vocabulary as I struggled with all of the acronyms, role descriptions, and terms. My learning has been fast and furious but I have been inspired and fully-supported by other Board members, the Leadership Team, Program Managers, Administrative Staff, and every front-line worker that I have met! Most importantly, the community we serve, referred to as our owners, especially people with disabilities and their families, have been exceedingly welcoming and instructive. We operate in a person-centred culture where we always begin at where the person is and then work collaboratively for the best-possible outcome. The UNITI brand (representing all 3 registered non-profit organizations: Semiahmoo House Society, The Semiahmoo Foundation, and Peninsula Estates Housing) is inclusive, ethical, and solution-focused. I am proud to contribute in any way.
The Board’s main function is to ensure strong stewardship. At each and every Board meeting we monitor Ends (mission of the organization) (goals) and executive limitations as defined through a policy governance framework. There is linkage with owners, Board education, and regular review of policies and fiscal guidelines. Board members are encouraged to attend education sessions with various speakers including governance seminars and annual inclusion conferences. Some of us attended a Community Living BC-sponsored Inclusive Housing Forum at Surrey City Hall last October. There was an opportunity to network with federal and provincial politicians, city staff, development consultants, self-advocates, and other professionals. As well, there is an annual tour of UNITI sites–The Treehouse and Personal Development and Transitions Self-Discovery Programs, Chorus, Acquired Brain Injury Services, WISE Career Planning, Group Homes, and Peninsula Estates Townhouses.
As a Board, we continue to capitalize on the success of Chorus with a view to expand and extend quality affordable and inclusive housing on the peninsula. There is good feedback from Chorus residents and the value of past experience through the planning and building process. We are currently exploring options and connecting with experts in the community and housing industry to plan and prepare for a future project. Stay tuned!
Another highly significant Board role is to inform and educate our community. To this end, we organize and host key events for this express purpose. There is an annual picnic in September complete with food, games, music, and much celebration. October is the Board/Management Retreat for building connections and refining our vision. In November, we hosted our second annual remodelled Gala wine-tasting event where we raised over $75,000 to support affordable and inclusive housing. This year’s “Food for Thought” dinner took place in April where our invited guests were members of the community in the hospitality industry. This focused conversation while “breaking bread” integrated with our new training program in culinary and catering skills. We recognize and thank donors to the organization in May and work with our sponsors at the annual Golf Tournament in June. In July, we open our doors to host the Surrey Board of Trade networking event.
Please check out a refreshed logo for all three non-profits organizations.
Thank you to all Board Members for their service. Members are dedicated and professional with varied life and career experience including business, education, law, politics, public service, volunteerism, and community advocacy. We also include one Board representative from SAS (Self Advocates of Semiahmoo). In this capacity, Madison VanOene was appointed to the Board in January 2019. She brings fresh and thoughtful insight. Welcome! In addition, the Board also welcomed two other new members in 2018, Catherine Ferguson and Linda Annis. Both bring extraordinary skill sets to this role for UNITI.
I would be remiss if I did not publicly acknowledge the stellar work of previous SAS representative, Alex Magnussen. Alex served on the Board from 2014 to 2018 and has become a recognized leader, public speaker, and award-winning advocate for people with disabilities. Last September, Alex was featured in Thrive Magazine, the journal of the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation, where he and another SAS member, Jacqueline Perry, were honoured for their contributions to White Rock City’s All Abilities and All Ages Playground, officially opened in September 2018. Thank you, Alex, for your work on the Board of Directors!
I also wish to express my profound appreciation to former Board Chair, Rich Gorman. Rich served in this role since 2014 and fulfilled his responsibilities with commitment and passion. His steady hand and sensible approach guided the Board well as it ensured UNITI was meeting its ENDS (goals) and remaining engaged with its owners.
It has been my pleasure and privilege to work with CEO Doug Tenant. Under his leadership and with his deep connections in the community, UNITI has continued to be a positive and influential force for people with disabilities. Over the past year, Doug has given presentations on housing for people with disabilities throughout North America. He is knowledgeable and responsive and helps Board members understand issues and expectations.
Thank you, as well, to all UNITI staff members and volunteers who impact directly on the lives of people with disabilities and their families. Your work makes a difference!
Bea Hadikin, Board Chair, Semiahmoo House Society
UNITI is the partnership of three affiliated non-profit organizations that have existed for decades. 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. Peninsula Estates Housing Society provides affordable and inclusive rental housing that reflects the diversity of our community. The Semiahmoo Foundation assures that UNITI has the recognition, relationships and resources to support an inclusive community.