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Strengthening Community

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September 2016 - we


What is ‘we’ &

why you are receiving it… Our wonderful city of Prince George is the result of many people working together for over a century to help each other survive and succeed. We, today’s citizens and our forebears, created this city and we will continue to cause it to grow and thrive. There have been times of great progress and times when we struggled to keep moving forward and in either case it was always ordinary people, working together, who made things happen in our city. AiMHi’s quarterly magazine ‘we’ is a celebration of people and organizations that seek to bring about positive, sustainable change that makes living in Prince George even better for all of our citizens. The issue you are holding is the third issue we have published. Another will arrive at your home near Christmas. Our purpose it to share information about who is doing what in our community in the belief that there are many people in our city who have an unrealized desire to get involved and make their contribution to our evolving city and they, maybe you, will enjoy finding out about interesting things that are happening. We believe that as our publication relates stories of what is being contemplated or is already happening, people with a passion for making a difference will recognize opportunities to align their efforts with those of others and become part of a collaborative adventure in community building. AiMHi – Prince George Association for Community Living – seeks to have an impact on our community by recognizing and nurturing the unique value in each of us. It is our sincere belief that every person in our city can make their unique contribution to civic development. Our ongoing work is focused on encouraging

inclusiveness and enabling everyone to be as engaged in the community as they wish to be. While AiMHi is creating and managing this publication, it will not be solely about AiMHi. ‘we’ will include information about what many organizations in our city are doing to improve the quality of life for every citizen of our city. Organizations who would like to tell their story in ‘we’ need only contact me and we’ll find a way to make that happen, dependent on space available, of course. It is our intention to

operate ‘we’ on a cost-recovery basis. This means that we intend to sell only sufficient advertising to pay the operating costs. As it will be mailed to about 10,000 Prince George homes and businesses once each quarter and will be available as an online e-magazine to many thousands, more we believe that it will be cost effective advertising for our business supporters. Our ad rates are modest if you are interested in advertising to much of the city in a positive and interesting advertising environment. We hope you will enjoy reading about your community and want to be part of ‘we’ magazine. Let us know what you think… Roy Spooner, Publisher

‘we’ is a celebration of people and organizations that seek to bring about positive, sustainable change

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we - September 2016



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September 2016 - we

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6 we - September 2016



Community living moves to inclusion

After about 20 years of promoting the participation of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of com-

it will be Community Inclusion Month. The city even gets into the act and October will be proclaimed Community Inclusion Month. Over the years AiMHi has held a whole host of events to celebrate Community Living Month. They’ve had open houses at their facility on Kerry Street, pancake breakfasts, an event called Eat, Laugh and Play and a fall fair. Those events will certainly continue during Community Inclusion Month. AiMHi, which was busy hosting the Inclusion BC conference in June, hasn’t yet decided what the event will EHIRUWKHĂ€UVW&RPPXQLW\ Inclusion Month, but there ZLOOGHĂ€QLWHO\EHVRPHWKLQJ Heidsma said. She added the switch to ‘inclusion’ makes sense for the organization strives to provide the “best supports and services

to people in the communities we work in, together with the best worksites for our employees,â€? as their website states. “For years we used the word By BILL PHILLIPS inclusion to represent the munity life,. Community Community Living living need for communities to learn is Month now is community no more. inclusion. how to include people,â€? she Community Gone withLiving it is Community BC continsaid. “But in reality, we all are alues Living itsB.C., worktheacross organization the provready in the community. We all ince. that oversaw It is a crown it. Butcorporation fear not, live here. It’s more around recthat the work fundscontinues more than through 18,900Inognizing that communities are adults clusionwith BC, the developmental logical progresdisfull of diverse people and that abilities sion of Community in B.C. Living B.C. if we could just accept the fact “What does community that we’re all different and that living mean?â€? asks Melinda we all need to be welcomed Heidsma, executive director of and part of the community, AiMHi – The Prince George we’re already here. So it’s not Association of Community Livreally a case of including people LQJ´,W¡VQRWDYHU\ZHOOGHĂ€QHG but rather recognizing we have term, we all live in the commua very diverse community. We nity, so what does community should appreciate everyone in living mean? Community incluit.â€? sion is a little clearer.â€? Part of AiMHi’s role in all Each year the AiMHi hosts that, she says, is just being a events to celebrate Commugood neighbour in the comnity Living Month and this year munity. And being that good neighbour has, hopefully, played a part in a change in Prince George. Heidsma says she has certainly seen a change in city attitudes in the 31 years she’s been involved with AiMHi. “In the beginning, bringing people into some public venues ZDVNLQGRIGLIĂ€FXOWÂľVKHVDLG “People weren’t accustomed to seeing people with disabilities out in public places. They had Sun Life’s Money for Life approach adapts to you — I can help you build a plan been institutionalized and kind to getSun protection, andLife the freedom to live your way, now and Life’s guarantees Money for approach adapts to you – of hidden and forgotten. But through retirement. I can help you build a plan to get protection, guarantees that’s not the case today. The Sunfor Life’s Money fortoLife approach adapts to youyou — Ibuild can help you buildcommunity a plan and the freedom live your way, now and through un Life’s Money Life approach adapts to you — I can help a plan today is very welLinda Rempeland CFPÂŽ to get protection, guarantees the freedom to live your way, now and o get protection, guarantees and the freedom to live your way, now and retirement. coming and ready to nurture Sun Life’s Money for Life approach adapts to you — I can help you build a plan 250-614-0585 through retirement. hrough retirement. to get protection, guarantees and the freedom to live your way, now and whoever is here.â€? through retirement. Fair enough to say the Linda Rempel CFPÂŽ Linda886 Rempel CFPÂŽ association, which has 450 emVancouver Street 250-614-0585 Rempel CFPÂŽ 250-614-0585 ployees, has been successful in PrinceLinda George, BC V2L 2P5 250-614-0585 changing attitudes and helping people with disabilities. 886 Vancouver Street 886 Vancouver Street One of those successes, says 886 Vancouver Street Life’s brighter under the sun Prince George, Prince George, BC V2L 2P5 BC V2L 2P5 Heidsma is the association’s Prince George, V2L Mutual funds distributed by Sun Life Financial Investment ServicesBC (Canada) Inc. 2P5 housing program where the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies. house people with disabilities. Š Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2016. “We have approximately Life’s brighter under the sun ife’s brighter under the under sun 30 houses, most in the bowl Life’s brighter the sun Mutual funds distributed by Sun Life Services Financial (Canada) Investment (Canada) Inc. area,â€? she said. “We’ve never utual funds distributed by Sun Life FinancialbyInvestment Inc.Services Mutual distributed Sun Life Financial Investment (Canada) Inc. Sun Lifefunds Assurance Company of of Canada is aLife member ofServices the Sunof Life Financial group of companies. n Life Assurance Company of Canada is a member the Sun Financial group companies. experienced that ‘not in my Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies. Sun Life of Assurance Company Canada, 2016. Sun Life Assurance Š Company Canada,Company 2016. ofofCanada, Š Sun Life Assurance 2016. neighbourhood’ attitude in


the residential areas we have homes in. The neighours have been really, sincerely, wonderful. Many of the people we serve here at AiMHi have really good relationships with their neighbours.â€? Many of the people in those neighbourhoods don’t even know there’s an AiMHi house in the neighbourhood. Most of the houses have two or three people who AiMHi serve living in them, but the number varies. The association also provides help to people in their own homes who require some support. “The goal is always provide what support people need and hope to fade out as they learn those skills and become more FRQĂ€GHQWÂľVKHVDLG AiMHi also offers a home sharing program. “We have moved into home sharing over the past several years to ensure people have a choice in what type of home environment they might live in,â€? she said. Home sharing allows a person to live in someone’s home rather than live in a home with staff. “Our home sharing program has grown quite a bit,â€? she said. “The community has been very supportive of that. We’re up around 50 people who are living with families in the community.â€? AiMHi is always looking for people willing to share their home with someone AiMHi serves. The family is paid a fee for service. “We’ve got some pretty longstanding families who’ve been sharing their home with someone now for quite a few years,â€? she said. “We’re always interested in hearing from anyone in the community who might be willing to do that.â€? It’s a similar process to being a foster parent, however it’s different in that it involves adults who need some support.



September 2016 - we


Inclusion BC says thanks to AiMHi

A heartfelt thanks to AiMHi and break all sorts of records. We hosted the vibrant, generous people of Prince 500 registrants, secured 78 sponsors and George for making Inclusion B.C.’s annual partners and provided an unprecedented learning event a tremendous success. 45 full scholarships for self-advocates Along with our pre-conference and families from across the province to Employment Summit, IGNITE attend the event. We showcased seven spanned four days of keynote speakers and more than inspiration and education 50 workshops, catalyst labs and AiMHi’s on intellectual inspirational talks. disabilities and AiMHi is a hospitality leadership inclusion. powerhouse providing We had a fantastic abundant and thoughtful as a co-host time engaging in items in the conference bags, helped break childcare, warm and chewy conversations about ways to grow our cookies at the coffee breaks, all sorts of movement, while all of our volunteers, the records. getting to know the hospitality room and produced city through community and hosted the conference party, partners like The City of IGNITE the Night. Thank you very Prince George, Prince George much Melinda! As keynote Rhonda-Marie Public Library, Two Rivers Gallery, Four Avery said, “bridges are built from both Seasons Leisure Pool, KPMG Prince shores”.You helped bridge communities George, the University of Northern from every corner of the province to British Columbia and all the wonderful stand together in this emergent time of restaurants, coffee shops and gathering community inclusion.You also helped places. us welcome the 192 self-advocates to AiMHi’s leadership as a co-host helped the conference who shared insights on

self-determination and poverty – vital to the IGNITEyourRIGHTS experience. The Prince George Self-Advocate Caucus were instrumental in sparking conversations about the right to vote, work, love and learn. You helped connect to our Northern Lights; Inclusion’s BC’s Northern Network of organizations including Axis Family Resources, Fort St. John Association for Community Living, Nechako Valley Community Service, Dawson Creek Society for Community Living, High Road Service, Thompson Community Services and Terrace and District Community Services. These organizations sponsored, hosted us and shared what IGNITES their passion. Ann, Cindy, Tyrell, Marla, Dana, Bob and Michael it was great to get to know you and your organizations more. Thank you for your generous support and perspectives. Many thanks, Faith Bodnar Inclusion BC


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we - September 2016



Specializing in the Special Olympics

It’s a golden year for Kelly Hein. He was born in 1958 and that makes him 58 years old.

By BILL PHILLIPS The Special Olympian has also been representing Prince George competitively for about 30 years. Kelly has been involved with Special Olympics in Prince George pretty much since it started. This year he won the Lara Neukomm Memorial Award for Sportsmanship and Dedication. It was Neukomm’s mother Dee who, along with Ivy Whitfield, spearheaded Special Olympics in Prince George in 1986. Kelly competes in several events swimming, cross-country skiing, 10-pin bowling, and basketball. Special Olympics has been life-changing for Kelly, says his

mother Lillian. Kelly is autistic, doesn’t talk very much, and without being involved in Special Olympics, Kelly would likely be almost house-bound. “Kelly started skiing with us, as a family,” Lillian said. “We all cross-country skied. We skied under the full moon on Moore’s Meadow. When they started Special O, then he started that. It just grew as everyone needed something for the kids, there didn’t used to be anything.” As more sports were added to Special Olympics, more kids got involved. Being involved with Special Olympics has made all the difference in Kelly’s life. “It’s night and day,” said Lillian. “Without it, there would be nothing much.” She said they used to have workshops and Kelly, along with other kids, made such

Special Olympian Kelly Hein on his cross country skis. things as Mr. PGs, flowers to put on cars during weddings, and ribbons for the fall fair. “There were kids that aren’t employable, they could do something at the workshop,” she said. But it was Special Olympics that has taken up most of her and Kelly’s time. Her file on Kelly is easily two inches thick. It’s full of newspaper clippings and photos of Kelly. His Special Olympics career has also taken him across the country as he has competed in places like Cornerbrook, Newfoundland and Brandon, Manitoba. Kelly also works a day or two a week at AiMHi –The Prince George Association for Community Living. “He works in the kitchen there,” she said. “He likes to help, likes to work.”

When he at home he’ll help out by loading and unloading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, and whatever he can. Special Olympics takes a break over the summer, but with fall upon us, Kelly and the other Special Olympians will be back to their routine of training. It’s been an adjustment for both Kelly and Lillian as Kelly is now living in a supported home. He still comes home for visits, but it’s always tough when a child leaves the home. He will definitely stick with Special Olympics, says Lillian. Kelly obviously enjoys competing and, like all athletics, it helps keep one in shape. “They say ‘do your best,’ and he’s really trying to do his best now,” she said.


June 2016 - we


CDC promotes positive development

Our bodies are made to make great developmental increases in our first few years of life. Our brains change dramatically during this time, setting the stage for

Submitted by Prince George Child Development Centre future learning and function. Over this time we develop the way we view the world and others. We develop social and emotional intelligence (including impulse control), base muscle function, hand-eye coordination, and communications skills. The central skills we develop in our ‘early years’ stay with us through our lives, setting the basis for future learning and development. Positive development depends largely on the environment children experience during these years. There are many services available to help children experience the developmental opportunities which ensure healthy and positive levels of personal development. Helping Children and Families – the CDC The Child Development Centre (CDC) assists children with development, allowing them greater success in the school system and beyond. Most of our services support children in their preschool years, when the greatest impact can be provided. We have three broad program areas: Childcare, Supported Child Development (SCD), and Therapy. While the SCD and Therapy programs are for children with developmental challenges, our daycare is open to children of all abilities. There are huge potential benefits to enrolling a child in a quality daycare or preschool program. A good program provides many opportunities to learn while enhancing a child’s overall development through balanced free play, structured activities, and exploration of the world around them. At a time when many children often spend little time socializing and experiencing free play time, daycares, preschools, and after school care programs can help fill the gap. While families

have many excellent daycare options in the city, the CDC has a fantastic program for children of all abilities, and we have one of the best playgrounds in the city. Our Supported Child Development (SCD) Program helps children with extra challenges participate in licenced community childcare programming. The SCD staff provides direct support to children as well as working with parents, child care programs, and other child development professionals to help develop goals and strategies for the child. These supports enable families to find child care programs that best meet their child’s needs. The SCD Program has many benefits over the ‘special needs’ daycares of the past. It allows children with developmental challenges to learn alongside children with typical development. It also exposes children with typical abilities to the types of challenges that some other children face. SCD supports children with many types of challenges, including physical, intellectual, and/or more profound behaviour management issues. The Child Development Centre’s Therapy Program offers a variety of support services to enhance overall development and improve the quality of life for children with special needs and/or developmental delays. These services improve large muscle (gross motor) function such as walking and crawling, fine motor/hand


eye coordination, balance, communication skills, daily living skills, and much more. Beyond direct, one-on-one therapy, we offer a number of innovative group programs. One example is our adapted pool program. The program runs at the Aquatic Centre for school aged children with gross motor delays. The benefits of swimming are numerous: relaxation, strengthening, increased flexibility, improved mood, and many more. For some children and youth in the program, waterbased activities offer the only environment that they can move independently within. The services provided through the Therapy Program often provide lifelong benefits, allowing a child to be more successful within the school system and beyond. The Child Development Centre is a charity that has been supporting the region’s children for 48 years. For additional information, please see our website at or visit our Facebook page at

Serving Northern BC since 1965.


Serving Northern BC since 196


we - September 2016



You can help now,

or you can help forever If you want to help now Many individuals choose to help AiMHi by making a one-time financial gift that fits their budget. A gift of any amount is sincerely appreciated and will be acknowledged and recognized. So, whether you want to make a gift to AiMHi of $5, $50, $500 or $5,000 or any other amount that you are comfortable giving, you can do so on our website Also, there are a large number of people who choose to help by committing to making a gift, in any amount comfortable to them, every month of the year. You can arrange to make your monthly gift on our website as well. Corporate Sponsorships Corporate sponsorships are also greatly appreciated. If you own or manage a business and want to support the work of AiMHi in your community we will sincerely appreciate the gift of your choice. Your financial gift or your gift of product or services will help AiMHi help people in your community. And, of course, we will provide appropriate acknowledgement and recognition of your corporate support in a manner acceptable to you. For more information please contact roy. If you want to make a difference forever We can help you plan to create a Legacy Gift that enables you to make the difference you want to make – forever. You can donate a significant Legacy Gift whether you are a person of average or modest financial resources

and certainly you can create a Legacy Gift if you are a person with substantial financial and property assets. The first step is a decision to do so followed by careful planning. Why would you leave a Legacy Gift? Every person who gives has their own very personal and very important reason for giving. Frequently it is because you have a personal interest in helping other people, in making a difference in our community, or because you have a sense of hope and confidence that when we work together we contribute to creating a better community for us all to live, work and play in. You care deeply about supporting people with disabilities so that they can enjoy being included in community life. You have family or friends and you want to know that they will continue to receive ongoing quality care and support. You want to ensure that all people are valued and included. And, you know and trust AiMHi because AiMHi has been a valued part of the fabric of our community for almost 60 years, since 1957, ensuring that people with developmental disabilities and their families receive the services they need to experience life to its fullest potential. With your Legacy Gift, you become our partner in a commitment to deliver the kind of quality services you want to ensure are sustainably available because that means you are helping create a bright future for people with developmental disabilities.

What are the benefits of a Legacy gift to me and my family? Creating a planned Legacy Gift does not affect your immediate cash flow situation. Therefore, you do not have to be concerned about making any changes in your current lifestyle. Depending on how you plan the timing of your gift your actions can provide taxation benefits to you as the donor during your lifetime or to your estate in the year the assets are gifted. In addition, you get the satisfaction of clearly communicating your philanthropic goals and being part of organizing how your gift will make a difference in the lives of people in the future. What is involved in leaving a Legacy Gift? First and foremost, after you decide you want to create a Legacy Gift, you must do some planning and clarify your goals. In the planning process you will choose which of many possible ways to create a legacy that works best for you and your family. There are many ways to create your Legacy: You can stipulate in your will that a portion of your estate is to be used to create your planned Legacy. You can assign existing life insurance policies or create new life insurance policies to fund your Legacy. You may wish to give all or some portion of your real estate holdings to your legacy. (That lakeside cabin?) Existing annuities might be



transferred to your legacy.You may have accumulated cash or securities that you can transfer now or later to your legacy based on your needs. If you have RRSPs or RRIFs there may be significant tax benefits in placing all or part of them into your legacy. You might simply allocate a portion of your assets through your will to suit yourself and your family, with instructions that any remaining assets be placed in your legacy. All of these options are best discussed with your trusted financial adviser. If you do not have one we can provide an introduction to qualified, independent professionals practicing in our community. If you wish you can meet one of them by attending one of our scheduled information workshops. What do I do next to explore creating a legacy gift? You can start by contacting roy. and we will give you all the assistance and information




that we can to assist you to do what you choose to do. You should also consult with a qualified professional, such as your financial advisor, estate planner or accountant. They will be able to explain the various options available to you in order for you to make informed decisions. It is essential that you have quality independent professional advice to ensure that you consider all of your personal needs during your lifetime as well as explore all taxation benefits. You will also want to ensure that you have made provisions in any way you choose to for members of your family as you prepare your will and make plans for leaving a Legacy Gift. Your advisor will help you do this. Please know, that you do not have to tell AiMHi of your plan to create a Legacy Gift for AiMHi, or any of the details; that is entirely up to you. If you wish to be recognized for your gift clearly you need to tell us.


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Again, that is entirely up to you. We will help as much as you want us to. Thank you for considering the idea of creating a Legacy Gift for AiMHi. If you choose to create a legacy gift you not only help AiMHi financially, you also ensure that the organization remains vibrant and continues to offer people with developmental difficulties dynamic opportunities to exercise their right to lead full lives for decades to come. It is equally important that you feel that you are doing something that is of great interest to you; that contributes to your personal sense of having made a difference in your community for people you care about. Thank You!


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September 2016 - we

PROUD TO BE A SUPPORTER OF AiMHi Wishing you continued success. 4032 Hart Highway, Prince George Phone 250-962-4620


we - September 2016



CMHA coming up on 100 years

The Canadian Mental Health Association is one of the oldest national, charitable organizations in Canada and the oldest national mental health charity. CMHA was founded in 1918 by Dr. Clarence M. Hincks, Dr. Charles K. Clarke and Clifford W. Beers as the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene. The original goals of the organization centered on war recruits, mental examination of postwar immigrants, prevention, and support for adequate facilities and care for the treatment of mental illness. Our Vision is “Mentally healthy people in a healthy society”. We strive to achieve this through our mission statement “As the nationwide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facili-

tates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience and support recovery from mental illness”. The Prince George branch of CMHA has been operating and providing services and education Prince George since 1962. CMHA Prince George provides vocational rehabilitation services to individuals living with a mental illness through our Connections Clubhouse and offers a full range of social, recreational and vocational services and activities to individuals who have mental health issues. CMHA provides lifeskills services to individuals living with a mental illness to encourage and assist with independent living through the learning and development of skills of daily

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Canadian Mental Health Association receptionist Ronnie is one of the first people you meet when you walk through the door of the agency on Third Avenue. Canadian Mental Health Association photo living. We also offer subsidized housing to individuals with mental illness, and to date this has grown to include 24 subsidized housing units with one group home in operation and 19 single apartments. Our resource housing worker also works with individuals and landlords to assist in locating housing and assisting in keeping people housed. We have the services of a peer support worker who assists individuals living with a mental illness in with a variety of needs. This program also offers visits to the in-patient unit at UHNBC and our friendly caller program. In recent years we have expanded our services throughout Northern BC through the Bounce Back Program. This telephone coaching service teaches effective skills to help youth and adults overcome early symptoms of depression, and improve their mental health. Participants can learn

skills to help combat unhelpful thinking, manage worry and anxiety, and become more active and assertive. Our Education program has expanded as well throughout Northern BC and we are pleased to be able the following training Mental Health First Aid Basic and Adults who Interact with Youth, ASIST, SafeTALK, Ready to Rent, Safe and Sound, Duct Tape Isn’t Enough, Living Life to the Full and Mental Health Works. Our Manager of Education also works with first responders in our community to improve skills and interaction with persons who may be experiencing mental health problems or crisis. If you would like to find out more, please contact us at: 1152 - 3rd Avenue, Prince George, BC Phone 250-564-8644 Toll-free phone (BC only) 1-800-555-8222



June 2016 - we

Worker, volunteer, and client

Devin Sluchinski is doing well. If you happen to go into the Canadian Mental Health

By BILL PHILLIPS Association office in downtown Prince George, you will probably see him. He’s not only taken advantage of the services they provide, he works there and when he isn’t working, he’s usually volunteering his time with the association. “It’s helping me a lot, giving me peace of mind,” Sluchinski said. “Volunteering is as important to me as the work.” He is bipolar with schizoaffective disorder, which means he has moods that go “way up and way down, mostly down,” along with delusions. Working and volunteering at CMHA he can help others while helping himself. He’s been doing very well, pointing out that he hasn’t been in the hospital for more than two-and-a-half years.

CMHA is one of the cornerstones that help you stay healthy. Much of that success he credits to CMHA and the fact that he is working there. In addition, it was his volunteerism that helped him land the job at CMHA. He saw a posting for the job at CMHA, but didn’t think he could do it. He was encouraged by a friend at the Connection Clubhouse, an affiliate of CMHA, to apply.

“I had a job interview (with Maureen Davis of CMHA) and said ‘I don’t qualify for half of these skills,’ but she said since I’ve been volunteering for the Gift of Hope and volunteering for other things, she’d give me a shot,” he said. It’s proven to a good one. He’s now the organizer and thift store helper, where he’s been for just about a year. Sluchinski also volunteers at CMHA be reaching out those in the community who might need some help, through a program called Keeping in Touch. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, he gets on the phone and calls people who quite often, just need someone to talk to. “That’s good experience for me,” he said. Also, on Tuesdays he goes to the psych ward at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. to volunteer in a program called Positively Peers. “I’m a peer mentor,” he said. “I go there and I talk to people at the hospital about whatever they want to talk about. I’m not a counsellor, it’s the same as the Keeping in Touch. It’s a social call. It’s someone to talk to and listen, and give advice because I’ve been around the block.” He also volunteers for Ride Don’t Hide and raised $325 for the cause. He does all that because of his involvement with CMHA. “They’re a big part of my life,” he said. “… Staying positive is very important. t’s given me a job. It’s given me a place where I can help others so I can fulfill my own spiritual fulfillment. I like helping other people … CMHA is one of the cornerstones that help you stay healthy. They’re very supportive. They’re not judgmental if something goes wrong. They’re very compassionate.”


Devin Sluchinski not only works at the Canadian Mental Health Association, he volunteers his time, and he’s a client. Bill Phillips photo

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we - September 2016



A little time, Big rewards

It’s been a challenging year for Big Brothers and Big Sisters Prince George. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a good one.

By BILL PHILLIPS “We’re in the middle of unique year,” said Tim Bennett, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Executive Director. “Over the past few years we’ve had a lot of success in terms of what we’re doing in the community.” The agency has several programs that match local children with Big Brothers and/or Big Sisters. Currently it serves about 250 children in Prince George, which is double what it was serving three years. They serve these children through a variety of programs. The most recognizable program, of course, is matching a ‘big’ with a ‘little’ … matching an adult with a child. The Big and the Little then do things in the com-

Big Brothers and Big Sisters Prince George executive director Tim Bennett in his office at Kinsmen Place in Prince George. Bill Phillips photo munity that they both enjoy. It could be going to a hockey game, playing basketball, working out and more. “It’s like hanging out with any of your friends,” said Bennett. “It’s just doing what you’re do-

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ing.” It is the flagship program for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Nationally the program has been declining, however, Prince George is bucking the trend and the program is on the incline. “The community has been so helpful in getting involved,” Bennett said. He said the longer a child is matched with a Big, the better they do with the average length being about 28 months. The agency also operates its In-School Mentoring program in conjunction with School District 57. “We have volunteers who are matched with kids in our elementary schools,” he said. “Our mentor goes into the school and does activities with the child for one hour a week.” The program run in seven schools in the district and has been operating since 1999. “It’s a great program because we’re able to serve kids that we may not be able to serve in the traditional program,” he said. “The traditional program is really about creating a relationship between the mentor, the child, the parent and the agency. Because the child is at school, it gives us the opportunity to work with the school to support that child.” They have also started in-

school mentoring using Grade 11 and 12 students as the mentors with the students at the elementary level. Big Brothers and Big Sisters has been running several group programs as well, some through schools and some through their office on Kinsmen Place. The programs stress healthy living, active lifestyles, good life choices. Big Brothers and Big Sisters has also run a program involving older children and younger children. “It’s really around the idea of building skills through recreation and the value of mentorship,” he said. “Helping kids build their selfconfidence, their self-esteem, in a play-based, skill-based model.” Bennett said it can be tough for non-profits to make ends meet and Big Brothers and Big Sisters is no different. The agency used to have a thrift store, but that closed in 2007. “It costs everyone more to operate, the dollar doesn’t stretch as far,” he said. Big Brothers and Big Sisters had to then look at a fund-raising program. In 2010, it opened its first after school care program. “Our child care programs now generate about 40 per cent of our actual budget,” he said. “We have three before and after school centres and one preschool. We’re able to bring in the values of mentoring and what we do in our community-based programs and bring that into a child-care setting.” All of the children in the child care programs are registered in swimming lessons. “It has been a very positive move for our organization,” he said. “Not only is that helping generate some revenue, but it expands our reach and do that ‘on brand.’ We want to be known as Big Brothers and Big Sisters – the organization that works for kids. We believe all of these things help us portray that message.”



September 2016 - we


The job of finding someone a job

Helping someone find a job is a rewarding job in itself. Helping someone find a job who is facing challenges, well, that’s the best.

BY BILL PHILLIPS “It’s the greatest gift out there,” said Kathleen Moir, Program Manager for Infinite Employment Solutions at AiMHi – Prince George Association for Community Living. Finding employment for people being served by AiMHi is exactly what Infinite Employment Solutions does. It is funded by Community Living British Columbia. “We are looking for community employment for people with intellectual disabilities, diverse abilities,” she said. Infinite Employment Solutions also has an office in Mackenzie which, in addition to being funded through Community Living BC, is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation through WorkBC. Infinite Employment Solutions has, on average, about 130 people on their caseload. “We work with people with varying levels of disabilities, in all spectrums, so not just intellectual disabilities,” she said. Similar to any employment agency, Infinite Employment Solutions will do some career planning with a person who is looking to get into the workforce. “(We) determine what they’re level of interest is; what they value out of employment, what that looks like for them; what is the best type of employment situation for them,” she said, adding that means determining whether the person is suitable for part-time work, full-time, varied hours etc. Then, they go and market the person to businesses in the community. That’s done through networking with employers they are familiar with and sometimes, good old fashioned cold-calling. The pitch to employers is that they should consider hiring inclusively. “We know that people with diverse abilities tend to be a much more reliable workforce,” she said. “They are eager to jump into a job. It may take people a little bit longer to learn the job, but once they learn the job, they work at the same level of production speed as other workers.” Moir said there is also less turnover. “We also note they are also very

engaged with their work,” she said. “Those workers tend to be very proud of the work that they do and they do that purposeful advertising for the companies they work for.” There are also some positive spin-offs for employers to hire inclusively. One of those spin-offs is that staff tend to rally around the individual creating a “togetherness,” in the workplace. “Absenteeism and sick time generally tends to drop significantly when you hire inclusively,” she said. “They watch individuals persevere at their jobs, and come to work every day regardless of what personal struggles they may have. It brings the team’s productivity level much higher.” There is also some training opportunities within AiMHi to get people prepared to enter the job market. There is an information management division, a mobile crew division, and a kitchen program. Those programs give Infinite Employment Solutions an opportunity to watch the potential employees work, hands-on. From there they can assess what type of work the individual is best suited for. “When an individual doesn’t have much work experience, we’ll get to try them and they’re paid $10.85 an hour as a training wage,” Moir said. Once the person gets a job, Infinite Employment Solutions will work with the employer as well as offering job coaching

to the individual. “The modifications tend to be very, very small and generally don’t cost the employer any money,” she said. “What it allows us to do is building that worker to that production speed and quality of work that they’re looking for.” Then Infinite Employment Solutions starts “fading,” or gradually moving out of the picture. They usually stay in contact with the employer for about 18 months after a person has been hired. And, as much as the work makes all the difference in the world to the person getting a job, it’s immensely satisfying to those who help make it all happen. “We get a sneak peek into an individual’s life, watching them, from the front row seats, to be able to enjoy being a member of our community that is employed,” said Moir. Moir said employers in the community are also keen on hiring people with disabilities. “It’s not that employers don’t want to hire inclusively,” she said. “My belief is they do. They just don’t know how to go about doing it. They don’t know that a individuals with diverse abilities have the ability to work in such a realm of different jobs. We often think about the more entry level and more basic, but don’t under-estimate these individuals.” AiMHI also has a mobile crew that does a variety of different jobs, such as snow removal or lawn care. There is also a kitchen program and are looking employers to hire people out of the AiMHi kitchen program.

It’s immensely satisfying to those who help make it all happen

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we - September 2016



The full Spectrum of work

Spectrum Resources takes pride in being involved in the community. That involvement means hir-

BY BILL PHILLIPS ing people with disabilities. This year they hired a couple of workers through Infinite Employment Solutions through AiMHi – The Prince George Association of Community Living. Morgan Massettoe works with Spectrum Resources out of its Mackenzie office and Casey Westerman in Prince George. The two fit in well with the crews that work clearing out noxious weeds in the area, says Eric Nijboer, project manager, Industrial and Invasive Alien Plant Programs for Spectrum. Massettoe lives in Mackenzie and works with a crew that is working on a pipeline in the area.

Morgan Massettoe helps a Spectrum Resources crew deal with invasive plants along a pipeline right of way in the Pine Pass. Troy Knox photo

“He was a trainee, helping them wherever he could,” said Nijboer. “The project is up in

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the Pine Pass along the pipeline right of way. Morgan would have been helping the crew dig up the weeds, carry the weeds in the garbage bags back to the truck, helping them carry their gear around.” The crew was also doing quite a bit of herbicide application, which requires a certification, so Massettoe wouldn’t be applying the herbicide, but would help the crews however he could. Westerman has worked on a manual weed crew with AiMHi, that was managed by Spectrum, for about three years. This year Spectrum decided to hire him on. “We use AiMHi for a few other things,” said Nijboer. “They have a crew that does our garden and lawn.” AiMHi also does some paper shredding for Spectrum. “It’s just like a community partner,” said Nijboer about why they are involved with AiMHi. “We’re trying to involve the community in our projects as much as we can.” Nijboer says the guys fit in well with the crews out in the

field. “We try and set up the right folks with the AiMHi folks,” he said. “There’s no issues really. They get along.” Spectrum had two people from AiMHi this summer and Nijboer says they’re looking at hiring more next summer. “We’ve worked with AiMHi, we’ve supported AiMHi for a long time,” he said. “Before we were hiring people from AiMHi, we were donating money.” That involvement just grew into getting AiMHi to help. “It gives us the ability to give these folks skills that they probably otherwise couldn’t acquire,” said Nijboer. In addition to knowledge about invasive plants, the workers gain work experience that is transferable. Safety is important to Spectrum, so that is stressed to all workers. Workers also learn how to interact with the public. “I think it means a lot of have them here, especially for the guys who work with them every day,” he said. “It means a lot to actually see them develop.”


Primus keeps smiling at Duz Cho

It took some time and a change in the wood they were dealing with, but Duz Cho Forest Products in Mack-

BY BILL PHILLIPS enzie eventually managed to hire a worker through AiMHi. Karl Primus has been working at Duz Cho for several months now. He piles blocks that come off a turntable in the mill. General manager Bill Barwise says when they first talked with AiMHi about possibly placing a work at the mill, they didn’t have anywhere they could put him. “At that time all the jobs on the floor needed a lot of skills, such as lock-out and other competencies,” he said. But when their wood changed and there was an “opportunity that would minimize the hazards,” Barwise was on the phone to AiMHi. As one can imagine in a mill, safety is the first priority. Primus was trained on the job, which Barwise acknowledges can be a bit monotonous but needs to be done. Primus job shadowed to learn what he needs to do. Barwise, who knows Primus’ father, got him in to help Karl as well. And help is never far away. “We have been rotating workers to work with him,” said Barwise. “Plus he carries a radio.” And they have a buddy system in the mill so workers watch out for each other all the time. Primus is also equipped with all the necessary safety gear such as a high-vis vest and hard hat. The only thing


he had to provide himself was steel-toed boots. “He’s always pleasant,” said Barwise. “He fits in pretty well. He always has a smile. People encourage him every day.” Because the job can be a little tedious, Barwise has gotten him to do some janitorial work as well, which actually pays more, and to do some packaging work as well. “He does seem to be little more engaged when he’s doing janitorial work,” Barwise said. “It’s nice to be able to challenge him.” When it comes to making a business case to hire someone like Primus, Barwise says it’s just what they do. “We’re an equal opportunity employer,” he said, adding they have a hiring policy of hiring First Nations first so about 60 per cent of the mill’s employees are First Nation and about 35 per cent are women. He said they redesigned a hew-saw to accommodate an employee in a wheelchair. “It wasn’t anything other than ‘we’re open to it,’” Barwise said of hiring people with disabilities. As for Karl, he is just another guy at the mill. “He’s a very likeable person,” Barwise said. “He brings a smile to everyone’s face.”

September 2016 - we


Duz Cho Forest Products employee Karl Primus piles blocks coming off a turntable at the mill in Mackenzie. Primus was hired through AiMHi in Prince George. Troy Knox photo


we - September 2016



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September 2016 - we

Finding the perfect job


As far as Rod Sutton is concerned, he has the best job in the world. He works the weekend shift as a custodian at the Northern Sports Centre. It was a natural progression for him after

BY BILL PHILLIPS doing some custodial work at the AiMHi office in Prince George. AiMHi, through its job placement program, then found Sutton his dream job at the Northern Sport Centre. “I like the people,” he said of his job which sees him cleaning the washrooms, sweeping the floors, cleaning rugs and generally, making sure the building is clean. “I really enjoy chatting with the people. Once in a while someone will come up and say ‘you guys are doing an awesome job.’ Which makes me feel really good.” He says it’s not an easy job as dealing with plugged toilets and messy changerooms can challenge anyone. But it means the world to him. “I can really branch out and talk to other people, and get to know the community more,” he said. “What family I do have are very proud of me for getting this high. I’ve started low and come all the way up to the top.” Sutton has been doing janitorial work for seven years and to now clean the Northern Sports Centre, where two of his nieces have attended, is special. “Janitor work is something that people look at go ‘oh, gross,’” he said. “Janitor work is being your own person … You know exactly what you’re doing.” AiMHi had placed him at a local mill, but that wasn’t a fit for him, nor was a stint with a local janitorial company. At the Northern Sport Centre he has more responsibility, he has to navigate the transit system to make sure he gets to work on time. The challenge works for him. “I’m hoping that I’m going to stay here,” he said. “I going to retire at this job.” For Gordon Jewsbury, Sutton’s boss and general manager of Sodexo, hiring people with disabilities just makes sense. In fact, it’s encouraged by the company, which is a global company and has been recognized as one of Canada’s best diversity employers. It works with Ready, Willing and Able, which is a national agency that focuses on creating an inclusive labour force.

Sodexo employee Rod Sutton and Sodexo general manager Gordon Jewsbury at the Northern Sport Centre, where Sutton has the best job in the world. Troy Knox photo Sodexo has several programs to achieve that goal including one called Jennifer’s Green Chain. In Toronto there was an employee who, because she has a disability, was working with a counsellor while everyone else was in a class making green chains out of paper. She was upset because everyone else got to make the green chains but she wasn’t able to. “Now the company, for every person we hire who has a disability, adds a link to the chain in our head office,” said Jewsbury. “So we’re trying to make that chain as long as possible.” Head office accolades aside, Jewsbury says there is a definite business case to be made for hiring people with disabilities. “Statistics have shown that people with a disability always show up for work,” he said. “They’re always here, they’re always willing to do what they’ve been asked to

do as well as ‘is there anything else I can do for you’. In some cases, I would class them as the ideal employee.” That means, he said, employee turnover goes down. “I’ve got some people who are always coming for work, they enjoy their job and they go that extra mile do a good job,” he said. As for Sutton, Jewsbury says he is fitting in fine at the Northern Sports Centre. “So far he’s doing very well,” said Jewsbury, adding they adjusted his work schedule to accommodate the bus schedule. And for Sutton, he’s where he wants to be and having a good job makes all the difference. “People see that I really like doing this,” Sutton said. “There’s nobody behind me telling me what needs to be done.”

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we - September 2016



Signs of the times If you’ve driven by Spruceland Shopping Centre you’ve probably had a Little Caesars Pizza sign waved at you from out on the boulevard.


Little Caesars sign shaker Carol West hard at work on the boulevard in front of Spruceland Shopping Centre. Troy Knox photo

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The ‘sign shakers’ are part of Little Caesars’ marketing plan. And, likely more often than not, the person doing the sign shaking is there through AiMHi – The Association for Community Living. Little Caesar’s general manager Hilarie Green says their AiMHi affiliation started small, but has grown. “We started out with one guy and he did a really great job,” Green said. “We really appreciated what he did. We brought two more on.” All three are good workers, said Green, and get along well with the public and the rest of the staff at Little Caesars. “They take pride in their work and really embrace having a workplace,” said Green. Green cites the usual reasons for hiring people through AiMHi … they’re good workers, take pride in their work, get to work on time, are willing to work when the weather (and Green) says they shouldn’t. “They’ll work no matter what,” Green said. Plus, they are committed to the job and that makes all the difference for Green, and for the workers. “Some people don’t take (the job) as seriously,” she said. “It’s nice, as an employer, to see people take their job seriously. They have been very reliable. It’s also nice to have the support of AiMHi. When the workers are out there signshaking, they are basically on their own, although Green does check up on them from time to time. The workers do more than simply wave at cars going by, people often stop and talk. And, sometimes, they even get tips. But she also has another reason for hiring people through AiMHi. “It’s really rewarding,” she said. “It’s enriching for their lives, as well as ours.”



September 2016 - we


Fast and Professional Service on All Brands

Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris and Linda Ash go over some documents in the MLA’s office. Ash, who got the job through AiMHi’s Infinite Employment Solutions program, works at the office a couple of days a week. Bill Phillips photo

Northern Lights picks the best When the fruit it ripe, you have to pick it. When you have a large orchard, that is getting even

BY BILL PHILLIPS larger, you need lots of people to help you. So when Northern Lights Estate Winery started to produce more on its property along North Nechako Drive, one of the places it looked for help with AiMHi, the Prince George Association for Community Living. “We have a team of them that come in and pick fruit in our orchard,” said Doug Bell, co-owner of British Columbia’s northernmost winery. “We were looking for employment groups that might be able to help. AiMHi was capable, willing, and excited to come onto the program.” Workers get paid based on how much fruit they pick. Because picking fruit for the winery is a value-added opera-

tion, Bell says they can pay up to 300 per cent more than the minimum required for piecework. “We pay well,” he said. “People are very motivated.” And, it works for the company to provide work opportunities for the people AiMHi finds for them. “It’s important that every employer give equal opportunity for those who want to work,” Bell said. “We are wellsuited for all, including from all walks of life … When have the opportunity where you can work at varying degrees of productivity, it works better.” The AiMHi crew also fits in well with everyone at the winery, from the rest of the orchard crew to the wine-making crew, to the sales crew. “They’re just phenomenal,” said Bell. “… The satisfaction they get as an employee and the satisfaction we get an employer is extraordinary. It really encourages us.”

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we - September 2016



Bart smiles from the Hart Everyone should have a big smile on their face when they’re at work. If you head up to the Hart


Always with a smile, Bart does all kinds of jobs at the Hart Home Hardware store. Troy Knox photo

Home Hardware you’ll find just that kind worker. His name is Bart and he’s worked at the Hart Home Hardware for more than a year. “He puts away freight, he dusts, he waits on customers,” said Mae Sanders, who runs the service desk at the store. “He’s awesome actually.” Bart is also one of the people AiMHi – The Prince George Association for Community Living, serves in the community. Sanders says they’ve had good results with hiring people through AiMHi. The workers do well. Bart is no exception. “He’s a good worker,” said Sanders. “Everybody likes him and he always has a big smile.

He was really proud the day I got him his red shirt.” In case you didn’t know, employees at Home Hardware stores wear a red shirt so customers can recognize staff members. Bart works three days a week and sometimes on the weekends they will get him to deliver prescriptions to residents in the area who can’t make it out to the drug store. “He feels like one of the team,” said Sanders. “And he doesn’t need much help.” She said Bart is good because if he doesn’t know something, he will come and ask. “Everybody likes him,” said Sanders. “I wish we had more people like him.”





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A Canucks fan through and through AiMHi supports at least one rabid Vancouver Canucks fan – and I have been lucky enough to get to know him.

Submitted This particular gentleman has a passionate interest in sports in general, but hockey - and especially Vancouver Canucks hockey – is what really moves him. Like me, this gentleman experiences anxiety and, like me, he has been known to struggle with his anxiety. There are times when he self-limits his own interaction with the community out of what we understand to be a fear of his own response to particular circumstances and/or people, which relate to his anxiety. Who doesn’t take steps to ‘protect themselves’ against circumstances that they believe will trigger anxious, fear-driven responses? I get it … but my wife, who knows this gentleman only indirectly through the (carefully vetted) stories that I share, was not prepared to stand-by while this legendary hockey fan chose not to go to see live games out of an apparent fear of his own behaviour. It had been some number of years since this gentleman had gone to see a game played live; he’d had experiences at games (and in many other contexts) in the past where he could not trust the community to be fully accepting of his person. It seemed like a solution might include a measure of security for him; something that addressed some of his fears and thereby allowed him to ‘be himself’ in the company of others, without needing to worry about how, or if, he might affect them. My wife connected with the community and organized box-seating

for him; he’d have his very own private suite up amongst the ‘expensive’ seats’, he’d be able to invite any 10 of his friends and family with whom he felt most comfortable and, of course, we assumed that it all would go off without a hitch. He even had about a month or six weeks to get used to the idea, to plan and to troubleshoot whatever obstacles he, or we, perceived. This was a no-brainer, and I remember a self-satisfied feeling associated with the coming together of the plan. We were going to get him to a game, and he’d have a box suite to boot. He didn’t go. The day came ... and he didn’t make it. He’d said: “No, I don’t want to go.” I didn’t believe him; I think he did want to go. I think that despite a number of efforts to control his external environment, his internal environment was such that on the day in question, he could not go. Had the plan failed? Had someone failed to do something essential to the success of the plan? I’ve since learned that this gentleman has attended at some number of games since our plan fell through. Had something changed? These and other questions come to mind when you work with people, and are accountable for outcomes.You don’t always get the outcome you’re interested in when you work with people, rather, you come to learn that you’re just one piece of a puzzle. This might be a success story, he has in the interim gone to some hockey games. This might be another kind of story, he didn’t make it to ‘the’ game. I have learned from this gentleman that when the timing and opportunity is right, people can surprise you.

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We October 2016  

we Magazine, published by AiMHi - The Prince George Association for Community Living, celebrates Community Living Month.

We October 2016  

we Magazine, published by AiMHi - The Prince George Association for Community Living, celebrates Community Living Month.