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Community Services

This past year the Community Services Department (CS) has experienced several significant changes in terms of growth, development and leadership. The most noteworthy changes are a result of the on-going Community Inclusion (CI) redesign process that is specifically aimed at meeting the SHS Ends Policies. The current redesign planning process is focused on:

  • Supporting economic inclusion
  • Supporting those who want to work to obtain and maintain gainful employment.
  • Promoting an “Employment First” focus
  • An Increased emphasis on skill development leading to Employment.
  • Exploring what it means to live a fuller and more vibrant self-directed life

Seema Tripathi, the Associate Director of Community Services has played an instrumental role in supporting a progressive and innovative redesign movement. Her knowledge and expertise of community-based employment services, as well as, her commitment, motivation and vision has contributed to many of our successes to date.

This past year several CI services have been tweaked, modified and adapted while new and exciting services have been developed. There has also been the creation of various employment opportunities within SHS. At this very moment, CS is on the cusp of implementing a new and exciting training opportunity that will promote both employment and community inclusion.

The most significant change in CS leadership was the creation of a new management position. Brianna Hopaluk, formerly the manager of Personal Development Services became the Manager of Community Services. Her management accountabilities are Personal Development Services, Transitions and the Intake Hub.

Personal Development

As a result of Brianna’s new role, Personal Development Services (PD) now has a new program supervisor, Sheri Wood. With the assistance of two Program Coordinators, Sheri oversees the operational components of the largest CS program.

PD’s referrals remain constant due to the wide variety of services and activities offered. All though PD is often the preference, all new referrals are encouraged to attend the Discover Yourself (DY) program to ensure a well-informed choice is made. Also, as result of DY, many existing SHS individuals from other programs have chosen to try PD. For these reasons, PD continues to grow exponentially. PD currently provides services to 113 recipients.

A huge focus for PD is building on community inclusion through volunteer jobs, participating and supporting various activities at neighbourhood recreational and senior centers, as well as, selling handmade products at local markets. PD is especially proud of their dance troops whom are garnering performance opportunities at various community venues.


With the recent elimination of training programs and training allowances, Transitions was created to provide community and employment learning experiences that could enhance and promote opportunities for future employment Transitions offers a time limited, skill based platform that supports people to reach their identified goals through:

  • Skill Development
  • Fun & Interactive learning opportunities
  • Building on the essential skills
  • Transferring them to Employability Skills
  • Identifying interest-based activities
  • Full & Vibrant LIVES!!!!

Service recipients whom expressed a desire to attend Transitions were first encouraged to attend the 4 –week Discover Yourself program (DY) to ensure a well- informed choice was made.

Transitions currently provide service to 54 recipients. Teresa Randle is the supervisor whom oversees the operational component of this service.


Wise (Working Innovations to Employment) is an evolving and comprehensive employment service that accepts both internal (SHS) and external (Community Living BC) referrals for those seeking employment. With the increasing demand of job seekers this past year, WISE has added two additional Employment Specialist positions and has created a Senior Supervisory position obtained by Anirudh Rayas.

At this time WISE is serving 59 job seekers and 83% of those served have achieved their employment goals. Most recently several WISE job seekers obtained employment with PepsiCO and The Government of Canada.

Currently WISE is developing a youth employment project with the Surrey School Board and is working collaboratively with other agencies to build more employment capacity within our community.

Intake Hub

The Intake Hub is a “one-stop” entry point for all people joining SHS. An integral component of this process is a four-week interactive sub-program called “Discover Yourself.” Discover Yourself (DY) allows new and existing participants to experience new opportunities, build new skills, make choices, explore new passions and map future paths whether it is employment, existing SHS services or new adventures such as “Community Connectors.”

This past year 84 people have successfully completed the DY program. The feedback from those who have attended has been very positive. People have enjoyed many aspects of this program such as:

  • The smaller intimate group settings
  • Getting to know new people
  • Opportunity for new experiences
  • Feeling heard
  • Making informed choices 

Community Connectors

This past year CS has added a new service called Community Connectors (CC). By using a person centered approach, this service is designed to build networks for people through community connections and social innovation. A Community Connector Worker identifies the assets and gifts of each individual and then applies this knowledge to promote and foster meaningful and reciprocal relationships where there is acceptance and belonging within community groups, associations or others in the community.

Objectives are:

  • Promote well- being and independence
  • Strengthen social inclusion within the community
  • Increasing a sense of belonging in the community
  • Contributing to the community
  • Connections in the Community
  • Focus on developing and nurturing relationships in the community
  • Skill enhancement through connections made in the community

This past January our first Community Connector Worker was hired. We will soon complete a 3-month trial project with 3 people. We are happy to report that several successful connections have been established. CC will soon extend this service to 6 more people.

Work Crews

This past September two employment work crews were developed as a result of the elimination of the former training programs. These crews employ 17 full time and part-time current and former SHS service recipients. All crew workers are paid Labour Standard wages. With the development of these crews, established business relationships were maintained. We have also seen a growing sense of pride, enthusiasm and commitment from the crew workers. In addition, increased efficiencies have been noted in terms of qualitative service delivery which is very encouraging for future growth and development. Currently a marketing plan is being developed to promote expansion and future job security.

Work Crews are as follows:

  • TidyAlot: Provides parking lot maintenance to external community customers
  • UnitiWorks: Provides landscaping, garbage pick-up, event set up etc. to internal Uniti partners.

Recreational and Leisure Services

Semiahmoo House Society and Rec and Leisure Services (R&L) happily welcomed Program Manager Lindsay Green back from Maternity Leave this past November. Since her return, Lindsay has been partially seconded to coordinate the SHS Accreditation renewal process. To assist Lindsay with R&L supervision, Anita Bhati has temporarily taken on the role of Program Coordinator.

Lindsay and Anita have implemented several new processes within the program. Most noteworthy is the venue change used to showcase R&L performances. Performances are now semi-annual and are held at the SHS Treehouse. This smaller and more intimate setting has been well received by both the performers and the audience with a noticeable decrease in stress and expense. In addition, Lindsay and Anita developed and implemented a new and more efficient registration and payment processes.

R & L experienced many highlights this past year, some of which are:

  • Partnership with YMCA for summer youth camps
  • Several trips were offered
    • Loon Lake
    • Victoria
    • Whistler
    • International trip to Cancun Mexico
  • Attended Memorable Events
    • White Caps game
    • Cirque du Soleil
    • Disney on Ice
  • Introduced new programs such as:
    • Semi Singers – choir
    • Media Club – makes animated shorts with various forms of media
    • Healthy Cuisines – learning to cook various healthy meals
  • Supported artists at the Inclusion Art Show hosted by PosAbilities
  • A R&L participant now volunteers on Friday with youth in the Afternoon Youth Program
  • Many new people accessing R&L services

Peninsula Child Care

Peninsula Child Care (PCC) currently provides child care services to 46 children. All three programs, Infant/Toddler, Day Care and After School programs are running at capacity based on staffing ratios. Due to the on-going demand for quality child care services in the rapidly expanding South Surrey area, PCC maintains a long wait list. All though the need is there to increase capacity, there is an overall staffing shortage in this field throughout the Lower Mainland. Program Manager Shannon Jones is very creative with maintaining the required staffing ratios set out by Fraser Health Community Care Facilities Licensing Regulations.

PCC has applied and is now participating in the Provincial Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative. This initiative allows qualifying families to receive child care subsidies.

Significant highlights:

  • Most recently the PCC playground was renovated to provide a safer and more esthetically pleasing area for children to play.
  • The entire PCC staffing team attended two full day professional development events this past winter to meet professional standards and to enhance service delivery.

Acquired Brian Injury Services

This past November, Acquired Brain Injury Services (ABIS) suffered a great lost. Their beloved Program Coordinator and friend Sylvia Hoeree passed away following a brief and devastating illness. It was a very sad and difficult time for the program staff, participants and all of Semiahmoo House Society. Acting Program Coordinator and now permanent Program Coordinator Kristyl Downing was very aware and sensitive to the needs of all those deeply mourning Sylvia’s passing. Those that expressed a need, were encouraged to share their feelings, express their grief and honour Sylvia’s memory in a safe and nurturing environment. Professional grief counselling services were provided for staff and participants both on an individual and group setting basis.

Though ABIS experienced difficult times, they also experience new opportunities and many successes:

  • An increase in participation by ABIS at SHS events
  • Obtained new tablets with Communication Boards and Apps
  • Offer a successful Karate program with a qualified instructor one evening a week
  • Introduction of new games, activities and events to spark new interests and further develop personal connections among ABIS participants
  • Well attended events hosted by ABIS such as the Brain Injury Awareness BBQ, Annual Halloween Dance and Holiday Potluck Luncheon
  • New networking connections with other organizations, as well as, funders and related field professionals
  • Several opportunities to showcase the important work done at ABIS

Guidance Counselling Services

The Guidance Counselling Services one-year pilot project proved to be very successful and well received. As a result, SHS made the decision to continue this service into 2019.

Shabnam Khan (M.P.C.C., R.P.C), our Guidance Counsellor has been practicing in the Lower Mainland as a Registered Family Counsellor for the past fifteen years. At SHS, Shab provides both private and group sessions 6 days a month. This confidential service is offered to all SHS service recipients through a self-referral process.

Under Construction

At the time of this report, two new CS projects are in the development phase:

  1. New Seniors Program for those who want to remain active, while taking life at a bit of a slower pace. The focus will be community based. Space and staff have been identified. Program development with soon begin with participant involvement.
  1. Culinary Services Training Program for people interested in obtaining entry level employment positions in the food industry. SHS has hired a red seal chef and certified instructor. The program curriculum and criteria has been developed. Project start date is July 2, 2019.

Elizabeth Deschenes, Director of Community Services

 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.

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