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Welcome back to the Smiles and Stories of Semiahmoo House Society!

Our first smile belongs to Larry Shareski: Larry is a staff member at The Semiahmoo Foundation where he holds the title of Ambassador. In this role, he attends events, networks with various individuals and organizations, and gives community members a glimpse of what UNITI is all about. In addition to this role, around the building, Larry is a master with the paper shredder, a reliable mail courier and a reigning foosball champ. He takes every opportunity he is presented with to engage with the staff and participants here and build meaningful relationships. The magic of Semiahmoo House Society is fostered in the bright spirits of individuals like Larry.

Have you ever encountered a stranger with whom you “just click”? Larry has the innate ability to instantly and authentically click with everyone that he meets.  I have the privilege of connecting with Larry weekly and have taken the opportunity to understand his story and the reasons why he smiles so proud. One of the main reasons I have discovered is the fact that Larry loves his job! Larry takes pride in what he does and is constantly brainstorming new ideas on how to better serve in his role here. He is punctual, creative and passionate about connecting with others. When it comes to foosball he is always a proud winner but never a sore loser.

Larry has shared with me his love for bubble gum, iHop, Pike Place coffee from Starbucks, the Abbotsford Agrifair, the Beach Boys and the TV series “Do you want to be a millionaire? He has also shared with me his dislike of spicy foods, high bus fares, and drivers who don’t stop for you even when the crosswalk light is flashing.  Organically discovering these things about Larry, I was again reminded of the common ground we share. Although I am simply a stranger to him, he has accepted and welcomed me with open arms. He has repeatedly invited me to join him for Sunday service at his church and I can always expect to hear positive affirmations from Larry every time I offer up a new idea or suggestion.

“You’re pretty cool Jenna, you know that” I never knew how much reassurance I required in a new environment until Larry provided me with his unconditional support and encouragement. This is what I want to give him in return.  We are unique, original, diverse individuals but getting to know Larry has allowed me to recognize the human tendencies we share. We have a similar drive to compete and win which I witnessed in myself while Larry was racking up points in foosball. We both share the desire to be heard, validated and encouraged that we’re on the right track. We laugh at the same things and share the preference of crossing the street without the repercussions of a trip to the hospital. Our difference in ages, backgrounds and abilities could be a dividing factor between us; but instead, together, we share our smiles, our stories and our humanity.

Jenna Sangha, Summer Student with The Semiahmoo Foundation

UNITI is the partnership of three affiliated societies that have provided important community services for decades. 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. Together we’re stronger!

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