Hello everyone! My name is Jenna and I am a student employed by The Semiahmoo Foundation for the summer of 2019. I’ve always considered myself a rather enlightened individual, however, during my first few weeks here my eyes have been opened wider than I thought possible. I want to share with you the undeniable magic that I have witnessed at Semiahmoo House Society through a series of blogs in the coming weeks.
Welcome to my new blog series: Smiles and Stories of Semiahmoo House Society!
When I first entered Semiahmoo House Society it became immediately obvious to me that for many, this building is not just a house but a home. It was hard to ignore the beaming, bright smiles I was surrounded with… but why would I want to? Behind each smile is a unique mind, an individual path and a story worth hearing.
Part of striving to create an inclusive society is shared understanding. The understanding that in some regard, we all share a common ground and each of us has something valuable to offer. The ability to authentically connect with one another is what links us humans to our own humanity. If we can step outside of ourselves and put effort into hearing someone else’s story, we experience growth, not just as individuals but as thriving communities. Through the increased understanding of others; whether it is other cultures, religions, languages, ideas, beliefs or abilities; we can enhance our understanding of ourselves and where we fit into the big picture.
I have noticed that outside these walls there is a lack of opportunities for individuals with different abilities to connect. Before my employment here, I had few encounters with the reality that people with disabilities have their own passions, hobbies, skills, ideas, grievances and hopes. This kind of unawareness can lead to imposed invisibility and exclusion which can have detrimental effects on a community and the individuals within it; I don’t want this!
UNITI, the partnership between Semiahmoo House Society, The Semiahmoo Foundation, and Peninsula Estates Housing Society, supports a broad range of individuals from all walks of life. The work we do is meaningful but it would mean little without the powerful personalities, exuberant energies, and smiles of Semiahmoo House Society’s participants. These are the stories I want to share. These stories will be a chance for me to connect with my humanity by expanding my understanding of others and I hope that you too, can hear these stories and grow with me!
Summer Student with The Semiahmoo Foundation
Semiahmoo House Society provides quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in Surrey and White Rock. Peninsula Estates Housing Society provides affordable and inclusive 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. All three societies are partners in UNITI.