You’re invited: Lunch and Learn with Lori and Aaron – Your Questions about Mental Health

networkoffriendsLunch and Learn with Lori and Aaron – Your Questions about Mental Health

When: 11:30 – 1:30, Friday Dec. 16th

11:30 – 1:30, Friday January 20th

11:30 – 1:30, Friday February 17th

Where: our boardroom at 3231 Kingsway (or our new training space! If it’s ready).

What are we talking about? Whatever people would like to talk about…   some examples of questions people have had:

“There’s so many activities over the holidays how can I manage my anxiety?”

“What is schizophrenia anyway?”

“I don’t want to take medications – what are my alternatives?”

“I support someone who doesn’t want to take medications – what can I do?”

This three month session of lunch and learns are for staff who support folks within Spectrum, staff who have their own questions about themselves or people they care about, the families of folks we support.

We will begin by talking about what confidentiality is and how to have good boundaries: “what we hear here, stays here.”

Lunch will be provided. Please let Judy or the Office Manager know if you are attending so we can make sure we order enough. Some vegetarian options will be available; people who have more particular needs should bring their own lunches and we’ll reimburse you.

If you want to know more about Lori Damon, who works with Reach Community Health Care and also in private practice, check out her website:

Posted in Stories | Leave a comment

Next Chapter Book Club in Vancouver

nxtchapterbookclubWe are members of the Next Chapter Book Club in Vancouver. We thought you would be interested in hearing about what we are reading and doing these days.

We meet every Thursday evening from 6:30-8pm at the coffee house The Grind in Vancouver. There is a bus stop nearby so it is easy to get to by bus. Spectrum Society for Community Living supports our book club and buys the books we read. When we finish a book we can keep it or donate it.

We work together as a team to read and talk about books. We read out loud to each other. If someone gets stuck on a word we help them out. We stop every once and awhile and talk about what we have been reading. We also look up words and pictures to help us understand what we are reading.


                                                        (members with the author Jenny Story)

When we finish a book we have a celebration. We have

  • watched a movie at a member’s home and eaten popcorn
  • eaten fish and chips while we played the board game Clue
  • created bamboo weavings with an artist
  • eaten at a Greek restaurant (yes we like food!)
  • and had a question and answer session with the author Jenny Story.

Our next book is “Heart of a Champion” by Ellen Schwartz. It is an historical novel about a Japanese baseball team here in Vancouver. The author lives in Burnaby and we hope to have her come and talk to our book club.


We have just started a pen pal project with another book club. We are hoping to get together with them once and awhile.

It’s good to be part of a book club. It gets you out spending time with friends. We all like getting together and have become better friends with each other. It’s good for your imagination!

We are looking for 1 or 2 new members for our book club. If you are interested please contact Judy at our office, 604-323-1433, or

Posted in Books, community, Disability, Innovative Practices, Networks, partnerships, self-advocacy, self-determination, Stories | 1 Comment

Social Media Citizenship “Please leave your cell phone on!” Connected and Included: why it matters

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on 101 Ways to Make Friends:
Always one of our favourite presentations and such a pleasure to work with Doug Tennant who brings so much to our field.  Here are some photos of participants creating little models of social…

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Are You Foolish Enough To Use Innovative Methods? by Christina Merkley

“Cause work is hard enough without truly being valued for who you are and what you can offer.” Christian Merkley

Some of us in our loosely knit facilitation network have spent the last year taking various courses with Christina, starting with her SHIFT-IT course and then separately moving onto other courses either online or in person in Victoria. In her courses she does lots of group coaching, which has been great, and some of us have taken advantage of some of the one to one coaching that comes with her courses. With Christina, you get a big whack of new skills, beautifully taught and then you also get introduced to some new ideas about life and connection and how our minds and spirits work. If you’re interested in education, her courses are in themselves exemplary adult education, based on building on what you know and are good at, coming at you in multi-modal layers, allowing you regular chances to share your own growth and knowledge. One of the things that’s interesting has been watching all of us take the courses, then reflect and try to incorporate the ideas. I notice that Shelley and I talk to people differently now, out of a differently belief system that’s not attached to limitations. All of us are doing things now that we were only aspiring to before.

And we’ve been thinking about this idea that she writes about below – how in our field do we move towards innovative practices and find the places that encompass new ideas? How do we welcome each other into collaboration and keep each other “soothed” through the new and hard parts? There are some great ideas in here that we can translate into working in our field, particularly around person centred thinking and goal setting, or which you might want to consider following up on in one of her courses. The skills here are so transferable to working with folks with disabilities and teams of people trying to get on the same page. If you work for Spectrum, remember you’ve got a training allowance and this would be a great thing to use it on.

Thanks, Christina, for allowing people to reblog your articles!

Posted on January 27, 2015 by Christina Merkley

Every week I do Exploratory Calls with people from various places that contact me because they are attracted to things I do and teach. This week I found myself repeating several statements to the folks I chatted with … which made me think “this would be a good eZine article” … so here it is:

I’m Attracted to This Stuff, Am I Nuts?
My work covers quite a swatch of territory … from basic and intermediate instruction in “working visually” to leading edge personal growth and resistance-busting methods. All the stuff I am into could be defined as ‘innovative’. I’m decades into it, so it all seems “normal” to me. So I find it a bit surprising (and even jarring at times) when I encounter folks who live in more conventional worlds. There definitely is an acclimatizing curve involved, dependent on the kinds of environments and belief systems you typically inhabit.

smileyface-questioningSooooooo, to answer the question of whether or not you are foolish or even nuts to be attracted to innovative or creative stuff … No, I can reassure you — you most certainly aren’t foolish, far from it.

You are sane, in good company and part of an evolutionary arc that is happening. You are waking up (further). And getting ready to do your part in making yourself and the world a happier, more fulfilling, more efficient and balanced place. But, here is the rub; sometimes waking up more isn’t a cake walk (i.e. easy). It takes study, effort, and developing stronger belief in yourself, your instincts and your capabilities. And, sometimes you will be ahead of the curve (i.e. the people around you).

Can I Apply This Stuff to My Current Work? Will They Cover It?
Some folks get on a call with me and they want to know if my course(s) are applicable to their current work, and ideally, will their employer pay for it.

visual-groupIf its Visual Skills, and you are in some sort of position where you work with groups and/or individuals … then yes, there are probably immediate aspects of your work where you can start to integrate the visual way of working into. Many of my students inThe Fundamentals of Interactive-Visuals and Magic Marker Retreatshave their enrollment covered by their employers.

To find out what your case is, you’ll need to run the course by your boss, HR Dept or whatever signing authority you have and see how they respond. And, other participants opt to cover the registration themselves (either because they are self employed or because they may want to use what they learn outside of their current position).

If its SHIFT-IT Coaching whether the online class, Home Kit or privately with me or one of our growing legion of Certified Visual Coaches … chances are your work won’t cover it … cause SHIFT-IT is a deep personal strategic planning process where you often end up subtly or drastically shifting your status quo.


Most employers find that a tad threatening (they want you to stay where you are). However that said, I have had some wonderfully progressive bosses cover their employees, often because the boss has done SHIFT-IT themselves and truly values the genuine path of their employee, regardless of whether they stay or shift else where.

Receptive vs Non-Receptive Workplaces:
Some students have very receptive work places (especially organizations that are already familiar with graphic recording and graphic facilitation … which has a 30+ year proven track record by the way). Others students have bosses and/or work environments that aren’t supportive (they don’t get it, they are threatened by it (it is a very transparent method after all), or they just want you to do what your usual is).

Sometimes my students end up transferring to positions and cultures that are receptive. They find places that are a better match to their attributes and values. As it’s not fun doing the round hole and square peg’ thing.

So hidden within the discussion around taking my course is actually a much broader issue of being seen, accepted and valued for who you genuinely are. Not easy for employee or employer alike … but better in the long run for everyone when these issues are eventually made visible and addressed. Cause work is hard enough without truly being valued for who you are and what you can offer.

Might This Be an Alternative Career Path?
sun-lgIt might. Underneath the attraction to my work is sometimes an attraction to a bigger thing that I represent. People project different symbols onto me: freedom, creativity, success, security, rebelliousness, etc. There is the hope and desire for possibly a whole different way of life not just the learning from the course but what you can ultimately do with it.

Some folks are content to use the various stuff that I teach within their current roles. If they are internal they roll the skills into the current work they are doing. If they are external, they roll the skills into their existing practices. For others, they want to make the transition from being a paid employee to creating their own independent practice. It’s not just a course per se, what they are really wanting is the bridge to a new lifestyle.

How Long Will It Take to Be Self-Sustaining?
Well, again “it depends”. What do you want to be doing? Where do you live? What is the marketplace around you? Do you want to travel? What does sustaining mean to you? And what do you bring to the table (aptitudes, skills, tech ability, network, contacts, hustle, chutzpah, gumption, etc)? All of these things are extremely important and go into answering that question. Being good at your craft is only half the equation, with being good at Business Essentials being the other half.

Take a Deep Breath and Focus on Just the First Step:
At the end of these kinds of exploratory calls my aim is to soothe the person. To reassure them they don’t have to have it all figured out this red hot minute … in fact, you won’t. You, like any of us who have made this shift, just need to take it one step at a time. Your steps will unfold as you educate yourself.

If you are intrigued with the visuals, then start with the basic skills class. Later you can take the advanced retreat. If you need to get clear about what kind of life you want to build, then do SHIFT-IT. If you know you want to go out on your own (or already have), then The Biz Essentials Kit. If you want to be a Visual Coach, do Certification. For most of the courses I also have Home Study Kits and I can adapt private coaching and private training to meet your needs too.

toolDon’t try to bite them all off at once. Take your time. Build your foundation. Then build on that after you have stabilized. Building anything takes time, dedication and focus.

If there is a will, there is a way. You will get there! And hopefully enjoy the journey while you are at it!

© 2015 Christina L. Merkley


Yes thanks, please do, I just ask that you keep it completely intact (as is) and include this blurb with functional links:

Christina Merkley, “The SHIFT-IT Coach” is a Visioning and Strategic Planning Expert specializing in Visual Thinking and Inner Alignment techniques. Based in charming Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, she works deeply with individuals, partners and conscious businesses to define and manifest what they truly want. And, trains other Process Professionals in her innovative ways of working. For more information visit: and

Posted in Stories | Leave a comment

Linda Perry talking about individualized supports and funding in our Community Conversations series

LindaPerryEach month we’ve been hosting a speaker on a topic of interest to families, folks we support and our team members and communities that we’re part of. Please feel free to share this invitation with others. This month we have Linda Perry of the Vela Microboard Association talking about individualised funding options available to folks who are interested in having more control over their lives and dollars. We know from friends around the world that this isn’t just a different set of forms to get filled out, but a different way of building supports for those who wish to pursue this.

Linda has spoken across Canada and around the world on individualization, individualized funding and how Vela Microboards has grown over the years to support about 800 folks around British Columbia, with sister organizations in other countries. Spectrum has always loved microboards and were, at one time, proud to be supporting the most microboards in the province! (Now I think that honour goes to the Langley Association and good on you all LACL!).

As with our other community conversations there will be a talk of about 45 minutes, 15 minutes of questions and then time for chat and tea. We hope you will join us for this event. Over the past six months we’ve had talks on the Next Chapter Book Club, family involvement in supported employment, spirituality and person centered planning.

6:30 – 8:30, January 14th, 2015. Spectrum Office, 3231 Kingsway

See you there!

Posted in Stories | Leave a comment

Danny Harris – Do Talk to Strangers…

Thanks Rebecca, for finding this video and sharing it 🙂


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

51 People

every time I re-read this article I enjoy it a little more 🙂 Please take a moment to leave these folks a comment on their good work


The other day, this article on the Huffington Post went viral, at least within my circle of friends.  Candice wrote about it as well here.  There were lots of mothers, especially, imploring people to read it.  And one friend sent it out along with the insightful and challenging question “What are you going to do about changing this reality?”

I thought it was a great question, as it acknowledged the reality of the fact that people with disabilities don’t have many friends, and then threw down that beautifully simple and sadly pathetic gauntlet:  What will you do about it?

I immediately thought of a tool that we’ve adopted to tell this story, the “51 People” research and graph (click this link for a full size version):

This is local research, done by Jack Pealer.  Jack has lived and worked in Ohio for a long time.  He learned about person-centered approaches and SRV in the…

View original post 1,507 more words

Posted in Stories | Leave a comment

George Pearson Centre – Redevelopment Consultation

The provincial government and VCH are hoping to make a lot of money from the re-development of the lands that George Pearson Centre is on (57th to 59th Ave – West of Cambie), while not creating fully community-based residential options for the people living there.  Paul Caune was placed in Pearson for three years and can tell you it is not a safe and healthy place to be living. Here are some of his articles on Pearson as it currently supports people:

You can ask Barb and Veronica for their comparisons between living at Pearson and living in their own apartment in the community.

The Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee at the City of Vancouver has reviewed the consultation materials and provided this feedback:

Vancouver Coastal Health presented its continuum of care to PDAC April 25, and we unanimously said it was not acceptable, substituted three smaller institutions for one large one, and was not best practice.

  • None-the-less, Vancouver Coastal Health is still proposing the same continuum of care.
  • The city held an Open House about Pearson on June 6 & 8.  “Boards” were up all over the room with information about the development.  Almost all of the boards had information about “apple pie” issues – eg how water will be used on the site, how our wonderful relationship to food that will be honoured, the parks & view lines, the connection to nature, state of the art energy and environmental sustainability, nurturing the “whole” individual, and holistic health.
  • Also, three architectural site designs were presented: core, continuum and cluster.  These three architectural site designs have no relevance to people with disabilities.  All three architectural site designs include the same housing continuum that our committee rejected.  The three proposed architectural site designs differ in the layout of buildings & open space; they do not differ in how people with disabilities are housed.
  • Only a few “boards” at the Open House contained information about housing for people with disabilities

This included the same 5 housing continuum options that were presented to our committee in April

Housing Continuum – 5 options

1. Individual Accessible Apartments

Independent living in rented apartments with individualized assistance.

Person has control over their life and assistance.

We support this option.

2. Clustered Apartments

Accessible units clustered within a residential building with shared assistance within accessible units.

Support is directed by the person, who has control of their assistance & life.

We support this option.

Please note: VCH does not say how many apartments can be clustered in one building.  Conceivably, they could allow 15-100 clustered apartments in the same building, in which case it would not be integrated living, and we would presumably not support it.

3. Enhanced Apartments:

20 self-contained “bachelor-like” units, with bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, livingroom.  Meals & recreation activities provided in “common” amenity space.  Personal care & nursing care on-site 24/7.

This is basically a fancy institution.  People have their own units, but care is provided and directed by staff — meals are provided communally on a schedule not determined by the person with a disability.

VCH says that “groups of enhanced apartments may be located in market residential, social housing or stand alone buildings.”  (my bolding).

Please note that groups of 20 units in a stand alone building equals wards with 20 people in each ward in an institution (with their own bathrooms & livingroom!)

People do not have control in this model.

It is not clear if this model falls under the Hospital Act.

We do not support this option.

4. Transitional Housing & Shared Supported Living:

  • Units with ~7  residents, each with their own bedroom & bathroom.
  • Livingroom & dining areas are common.
  • Units are grouped together within a building with shared therapeutic/activity space.
  • Personal care & nursing support available 24/7 between units.
  • Goal is “overall rehabilitative approach to assist residents in developing the skills to live in the most independent setting they are comfortable with”.
  • “Anticipated length of residency between 6 and 30 months; however some individuals may stay longer”. (my bolding)

This model is for people who need high levels of care & would benefit from support to develop independent living skills, & who need 24/7 personal care/nursing help.

This is a less fancy institution.

–       Units are not self-contained, and people can’t even cook or have their own meal preparation.

–       It makes no sense to put people into an institution to learn “independent living skills”  – you don’t learn independent living skills in an institution.

–       The wording is very misleading.  The units are called “houses”, so it implies that there will be seven people living in a house in the community.  But then it says that “houses are grouped together within a building”.  A house cannot be grouped within a building – they’re using the word “house” to give the impression of living in the community, but in fact, it’s a ward or unit or floor in a building, which is a segregated institution.

–       Another misleading statement is that this model “may follow the Green House Project” model.

Please note

  • VCH does not say this will follow the Green House Project model, but only that it may follow it.  The Pearson residents have asked for the Green House model for those who prefer shared living.  But VCH is not committing to that – they are only saying it might happen.
  • It’s not possible to have the Green House Project model in an institutional building.  The whole idea of the Green House Project is to de-institutionalize seniors and enable them to live in houses in the community – ie the Green House Project is small intentional communities of elders & staff living in houses integrated in the community.  The model proposed by VCH with different floors or wards in a segregated building, is not the Green House Project Model and cannot be made into the Green House Project Model.

–       It is not clear if this option is under the Hospital Act.

–       We do not support this option.

5. Complex Residential Care

  • Standard institution with slightly fancier features than current Pearson.
  • Units of 10-15 residents, each with private bedroom & bathroom.
  • The institution will include 10-15 of these units or wards of residents.
  • Shared meals & support services.
  • Personal care/nursing staff shared between two units in building.
  • This is the same model as Pearson, but with more privacy.

For persons with

  • “high medical needs that cannot be managed in their home”
  • Dementia and “other cognitive impairments” that can’t be safely managed at home
  • Highly dependent personal care needs or unpredictable nursing care needs.

Again the wording is very misleading

Each unit is described as a “house”, but they are not houses:  “Houses are grouped within a building”

A house cannot be grouped within a building.  The wording “house” is used to give the impression of living in a house in the community, but the reality is very different.

VCH says the GreenHouse Project Model can be used here.

VCH has made no commitment to the GreenHouse model which is what the Pearson residents want for those who prefer to live in a group setting

The Green House Project Model cannot be used in an institution.  It is specifically a model for separate actual houses, located in the community among other single family houses – an essential feature of the Green House Model is that they are real houses integrated in the community – ie they are not segregated and not distinguishable from other houses in the community.

People would be included in this institutional model who we know can live in the community and who have the legal right to live in the community as per the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

We do not support this model.

Please note that VCH has not been clear about who can or will live in these five housing continuum options.  They have made no commitment to people having their own choice.

They have also included persons with disabilities in all three institutional models (housing continuum options 3, 4 & 5), and they are not clear about criteria.

Please go online & provide your feedback as quickly as you can before the June 21 deadline.

PLEASE NOTE:  The consultation questions are NOTabout housing for people with disabilities.  It is actually about three models of site design: core, continuum & cluster.  None of these designs have any relevance to people with disabilities.

In order to register your concern about the housing options for people with disabilities, you have to go to theend of the consultation, and fill out the “any other comments” box.

It really speaks volumes about the attention to people with disabilities that it’s actually hard to even comment on how this re-development affects people with disabilities.

Another mind boggling point is that VCH has spent huge amounts of money & effort ensuring the site meets best practices for water management, cutting edge energy management, environmental sustainability, local food production etc, but they’re not ensuring best practices for people with disabilities.

Vancouver Coastal Health does not seem to get that it’s not the bathrooms or livingrooms that determine if something is an institution; it is who is in control and who makes decisions about the person’s life.

Please help us stop Vancouver Coastal Health from replacing the George Pearson Centre institution with three institutions!

Please go to

  • click on the Documents tab
  • then click Part 3: Whole Health Elements: Harmonize
  • read the four pages titled A Home For Everyone.  
  • Options 3, 4 and 5 are institutions.  They are not global best practises for housing for people with disabilities.

We need you to tell the City of Vancouver this by no later than June 21!

Here’s how:

Go to

  • Click on the Progress tab
  • Then click on the Share Your Views box
  • Then fill out the questionnaire

Important!!   At the end, in the any other comments box

Write a calm, clear letter objecting to Options 3, 4 & 5 of the Housing Continuum because they are institutions and NOT global best practise.

Please cite as much credible evidence about that as you see fit.

Remember!!  The any other comments box is at the end of the consultation.   Remember to keep going to the end, where the “any other comments box” is!!

Please do above ASAP because we have a June 21 deadline!

Please ask other like-minded people to do above as well.

The City counts feedback from consultations, so it really makes a difference.

Posted in community, creativity, history, Innovative Practices, leadership, Networks, partnerships, Personal Supports, self-advocacy | Leave a comment

Annual Summer Picnic – Wednesday July 17th 3:00 to 6:00 pm



WHEN?               JULY 17, 2013  3.00pm – 6.00pm


WHO?                  YOU! (The people supported by Spectrum and their teams – friends, family members and supporters)


May we suggest you consider bringing to share…

– picnic-themed salads (consider the recipes at ), fruit platters and watermelon

We look forward to seeing you there.

Click here for a link to the official invitation:  Annual Summer Picnic 2013

Posted in community, creativity, Disability, families, Great Place to Work, Introductions, Networks, partnerships, Personal Supports, self-determination, Stories, teambuilding | Leave a comment

Folks We Care About: Adam, Karen, Jenny, Tom, Margaret, Gary and Veronica

The Special Olympics bowling banquet was a huge success.

Margaret and Tom both ‘High Double’ Trophys (one for the guys and one for the ladies) which is the trophy for the highest two game total.

Tom and Margaret proudly display their awards

Tom and Margaret proudly display their awards

George Canning was an award recipient this year too.  Check this out!

A well deserved honor George

A well deserved honor George

Karen and Adam pose for a lovely picture at the bowling banquet.

Karen and Adam chilling at the Bowling Banquet

Karen and Adam chilling at the Bowling Banquet

The social calendar is filling up.  Off to the Crazy Hat Dance at Heritage Hall.  A great time was had by all.

Adam, Jenny, Margaret and Tom stepping out to the Crazy Hat Dance at Heritage Hall

Adam, Jenny, Margaret and Tom stepping out to the Crazy Hat Dance at Heritage Hall

Gary and Veronica

Gary and Veronica enjoy spending some time together!

Posted in community, creativity, Introductions, self-determination, Stories | 1 Comment

Best Wishes in your retirement, Carlos!

Best Wishes in your retirement, Carlos!

We celebrate with Carlos as he retires!

We celebrate with Carlos as he retires!

The Taunton Team held a retirement party at the office on Wednesday, April 23, for Carlos Costa, who has worked at Spectrum since September 1999.  Carlos is recognized by most people at Spectrum as the music man. He enjoys pulling together musicians to entertain at Spectrum events, including our picnics, New Years’ Teas, and book launches.

Sharing Cake ~ A tradition

Sharing Cake ~ A tradition

Carlos is also passionate about his direct support to the people served by Spectrum.  He understands the intimate nature of the work and he reminisced about the good times and the sad times he experienced while working with Jack, Virginia, George, Jenny, Tom and Adam.

We share some comments folks have shared:

Jenny remembers having a fun time with Carlos in Whistler and that the waitress mixed up our food at the restaurant.

Tom remembers Carlos taking us bowling in the old days. I remember spotting him on TV on Davinci’s Inquest.

Adam says, ” I hope to see him again!”

George says, “I miss Carlos!”

Dawson shared, “I’ll miss our long conversations about music.”

As one of the oldest staff at Taunton, Carlos showed me that it is always the best interest of the folks we support that is the most important aspect of being a community support worker.  Carlos always uplifted and supported me in my profession and even my personal battles in life.  He is a good person!  from Geraldine

Iren shares this sentiment with us:  Carlos for all we know is a wordly man by mouth and by hands (handwritting). He conveys his messages visibly in the communication book with his bold writing. He draws/sketches to further demonstrate what he is explaining. His drawings may be funny but the readers can absorb his explanations.

 Being new to Taunton House back then, I got the courage from him to write in a way that can be read.

Jacki shared, “I’ll miss Carlos’ calm, happy presence in the house. I really appreciate all of the caring, attentive support he provided to all of our folks.”

Judy shares a little poem, author unknown


When the golden sun is setting,

And your mind of care is free,

When of absent one’s you’re thinking,

Won’t you sometimes think of me,

Think of me when you are lonely,

Plant for me one little spot,

And in the deapth of your affection,

Plant the sweet forget me not!


Carlos is a song-writer, actor and poet and wrote this poem to share with us at the retirement party:



I am a gardener
Cultivating soil for the flowers that BE
And my God Given Gifts will help guide the Rand and Sunshine THE


I have partnered with companion Gardeners
To support…To advocate
For the Flowers that BE
And if a stem from a flower is slightly bent
I will stand by as a buttress to erect THE


I will follow a PATH immersed in Artistry.
I will climb to Earth’s highest peak
To witness the SPECTRUM that BE
And words of farewell will not enter my vocabulary
As my heart is a SPECTRUM of TWO
Just YOU
Just ME

Posted in community, creativity, Great Place to Work, Networks, Stories | Leave a comment

Rachel Suri promoted to HR Manager

Rachel suri headshotWe are happy to announce that after 2 ½ years in our HR department, working hard on her development and leadership, Rachel Suri has been promoted to our Human Resources Manager!

She’s been an integral part of ensuring support to each of our employees! Rachel will actively take on a leadership role with all HR functions in liaison with Naomi and the co-directors.

Congratulations Rachel! 🙂

Posted in creativity, Great Place to Work, Innovative Practices, leadership | Leave a comment

Bazaar in support of Madagascar Community Development Society, Saturday June 22nd.


Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island.   80% of the plants and animals in Madagascar do not exist anywhere else.  Approximately 90% of the natural habitats of indigenous animals have been destroyed.  Madagascar is arguably one of the most impoverished countries in the world with a life expectancy at birth of 55 years.

The Madagascar Community Development Society: Their Mission

The Madagascar Community Development Society has a twofold mission. First, they are committed to assisting the people of Madagascar in overcoming their difficulties connected to hunger, poverty, environmental degradation by first providing them with access to clean water. This includes efforts to support education, social justice, gender equality and the building of sustainable communities. The second part of their mandate is to educate Canadians and others about the Malagasy people and enable them to lend their aid, bringing hope and opportunity to the poor that struggle to improve the quality of their lives.


Through its fundraising efforts this society has successfully completed the following projects over the past three years:

Work completed in 2010:

  • Dug a 30m deep wall.
  • Built a gazebo for outdoor meetings.
  • Built a garden shed to hold tools and be used as storage.
  • Built a room for the grounds keeper.

Work completed in 2011:

  • Installed a pump and a cistern.
  • Built a shower, toilet and laundry station.
  • Levelled land for gardening.
  • Built a 200 m long fence.
  • Built a compost station.
  • Arranged for training sessions around urban farming.
  • Started a micro-finance project for 10 families.

Work completed in 2012:

  • Raised Garden for the kids. They harvested green beans and peas -Community garden for the adults. They enjoy the produce at community meals (cooked in the solar stove) and sell the surplus.
  • Microfinance project: The local association purchases fuel-efficient stoves at wholesale prices and sell them at retail prices. Since last  October, over 100 such stoves have been sold and everyone benefits, especially the environment but community members as well.
  • The Community and Education Center is a milestone as they now have a place to meet and learn and make handicrafts.

Current projects for 2013:

  • Build a proper kitchen so they can start a “Sunshine Café” to generate income and demonstrate the use of solar cooking.
  • Expand the microfinance project to 20 a month from 10 a month. To this end they would like to build a small shop on the main road where there is more traffic.
  • Increase educational activities for the youth and kids at the Center: Environmental activities.

Keyhole Garden: Photo courtesy of www.cowfiles.comAs part of the ongoing community garden project they hope to establish a children’s garden.  This will empower community children with the knowledge, skills and resources to be able to grow food for the rest of their lives.  The first children’s garden will be a keyhole garden.  This type of garden has proven to be successful for providing food for households in Africa.  One small keyhole garden can feed a family of six.

If  200 people  donated $5 a month or $60 a year for 5 years, they could reach their goals and gradually fade as this project will be fully sustainable. We can all come to visit. In exchange, donors will enjoy one week free room and board in Madagascar in 2015.

For more information please check out their website:

Come out on Saturday June 22nd 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and find out more about Madagascar from Rachelle Czerwinski.   She and her son Nicholas enjoy the support of Spectrum Society and Mishel Rooper to organize their supports.

Posted in community, creativity, families, Introductions, leadership, Networks, partnerships, social enterprise, teambuilding | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations Spectrum Runners and Rollers


Spectrum Runners and Rollers

Sixteen individuals from Spectrum Society joined the 48,196 participants in this year’s Vancouver Sun Run 10 K walk, run or stroll April 21st, 2013.

Congratulations to:  Ernie Baatz, Barb Fast, Edris Alkozi, Bert Brasil, Lily Cheng, Myrna Cortel, John Feng, Ru Han, Li Hartviksen, Trisha Hearth, Richard Louis, Linda Olson, Jane Panek,  Emily Ranada, Kira Burnham and Elizabeth Ylaya.  Our team captain this year was Li Hartviksen who encouraged her entire team to participate.  Thank you Li!

Spectrum Runners and Rollers ready to go!

You can look up their results at:

Stay tuned! Next year’s run will take place on April 27, 2014.   Will you join us?

Posted in community, Great Place to Work, Networks, Personal Supports, Stories, teambuilding | Leave a comment