Bea Hadikin’s AGM Presentation
Bea Hadikin is the Chair of Semiahmoo House Society’s Board of Directors and we are so lucky to have her! She is present and deeply invested. We encourage you to take a moment and read her thoughtful and meaningful AGM presentation. Thank you, Bea! You are one in a million.
It is hard NOT to be overwhelmed with the state of the world today. There is political and cultural upheaval, economic instability, and, of course, the pandemic. Covid-19 has triggered one of the largest distractions and disruptions to life in the 21st century. There is uncertainty about the future, fear of falling ill, and growing mental health concerns. The science of well-being shows that people are happiest when they have adequate income, good health, strong social connections, high trust in their neighbours and institutions, and freedom to work together to help others. Covid-19, indeed, has interrupted and impeded, in some way, every variable of a happy life.
A few days ago, I took my dog for walk – really one of the few things that feel ‘normal’ these days. En route, I met some neighbours (a couple and their son who we support at Semiahmoo House) and had a quick safely-distanced visit. When I asked how things were going, the young man was enthusiastic and positive. He listed off the courses he was taking through our on-line campus: music, yoga, art, something called ‘Everything Disney’, and his favorite of all: Happy Hour! And, why wouldn’t it be? How can you not smile hearing that?
At that moment, I felt immensely gratified to be associated with a quality organization that is responsive to needs as they emerge in real time. UNITI is running a virtual campus as well as a pod or cohort system for on-site programming and providing thoughtful outreach to people we support and their families. Doug and his team have been kind, calm, and focused every step of the way. The Board is exceedingly grateful for the consistently grounded and exemplary leadership demonstrated by Doug, program managers, and all staff, especially those front-line workers. Thank you!
The Board of Directors take their role as stewards of UNITI extremely seriously. We meet regularly, although now it is on Zoom, participate in educational events, community outreach, and regularly review our ‘ends’ – the overarching goals for all decisions – and provide input and feedback to guide and support senior management. Thank you to all Board members for their insight and dedication and thank you, as well, to manager, Diane Nimmo, for her excellent administrative support.
Since the last AGM in June 2019, the Board has participated in professional development on person-centered thinking, helped deliver a very successful fundraiser for inclusive community services called the ‘Bollywood Gala of Dreams’, and performed outreach in the community to honor donors and make connections with business and education leaders. Because of the pandemic, many other events have been postponed, including this year’s major fundraiser, our annual ‘Food for Thought’ dinner, our jointly sponsored ‘roast’ of Geordie Hogg (a long time good friend of Semiahmoo House), and the Inclusion BC Conference where UNITI was a host. Like everyone, the Board adjusts and adapts and we are actively looking for other creative ways to connect with our ‘owners’ – some of our most compelling and important work.
A highlight for me – last November, through the formal accreditation process, UNITI was recognized as a national leader in supporting people with developmental disabilities to lead rich and full lives. The external accreditors acknowledged the overwhelming success of all programs and services. We not only met the standards, we exceeded them! Further, it was confirmed that we are meeting our ends through evidence gathered from accreditation documents, manager reports, multiple survey results, and an abundance of anecdotal data.
Other very exciting news is around UNITI’s newest redevelopment project just blocks away from Chorus. It is another affordable and inclusive apartment that will be known as Harmony. There will be 91 much-needed units located near transit and other services with extensive green space and a very attractive design. We hope to get ‘shovels in the ground’ next Spring. Watch for updates!
As always, one of the best parts of my role on the Board is any interaction with the Self Advocates of Semiahmoo and I would remiss if I did not acknowledge them again tonight. Last November, I had the pleasure of serving as a scribe for SAS representatives who met with Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. Self advocates, organized by facilitator Alex Magnuson, shared their insights on accessibility legislation being developed by the provincial government. They were articulate, passionate, and completely engaged AND engaging. Another example of demonstrated leadership in the public forum took place in July 2019 when the Self Advocates approached White Rock City Council seeking help for increased accessibility to the beach. In addition, they were active throughout the early stages of Covid, creating videos, podcasts, and working to keep people safe and connected. Finally, they have been instrumental in helping to make documents and language related to people with disabilities, simple, plain, and user-friendly – something near and dear to my own heart! Keep up that heroic work!
In closing, I have a few more acknowledgments. On behalf of the Board, I would like to say thank you to Louise Tremblay, former Director of Development, the Semiahmoo Foundation, for her outstanding service. Also, Larry Shareski, staff ambassador, who was often found working side by side with Louise, has formally retired. Congratulations! Larry, incidentally, was one of the first people that I met when I joined the Board in 2015. He immediately made me feel very welcome.
Finally, thank you to all volunteers, donors, and people in our community who support the work of UNITI in some way – large or small. Our programs and services are enhanced and extended with your input and contributions. You are our ‘owners’. It it is your vision, combined with an exemplary staff and dedicated leadership, that make UNITI a significant and effective organization with a relentless focus to improve lives in a real and meaningful way.
Written by Bea Hadiken, Chair Semiahmoo House Society
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!