What a year 2021 has been! This time of year always brings up opportunities for reflection and I am excited to reach out to all of you in our CVS community at this time. First of all, I wanted to send my heartfelt wishes to you and your families for the holiday season. It has been another hard year for many of us but I am so proud of all the individuals we serve, our staff and the families in the CVS community for what we have achieved.
On a personal note, I’m so very grateful to have been appointed the Executive Director of Community Ventures Society. I’ve now been in this role at CVS for 6 months and it has been a wonderful time of growth for me. It makes me so happy to be able to continue our mission at CVS and work towards providing an exceptional quality of service for the individuals we serve and their families. I am also so excited to be involved in spreading the message of community inclusion in the wider community so that it helps provide greater opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities at CVS as well as others in our community.
Over the past few months, we have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and adhering to the recommendations set out by the Provincial Health Authority (PHO). With the COVID-19 vaccination program now being widespread across the province, I’m grateful that CVS is now back to accessing the community on a regular basis. The individuals we serve are able to spend time out and about in the community, which is one of the cornerstones of our CVS programming. It is so nice to see that almost all the individuals we serve at CVS are back in program. It makes me so happy to see everyone when I visit the sites and it is starting to feel like we are slowly adapting to our “new normal”. We recognize that the new Omicron COVID-19 variant may be of concern to some and we are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to keep our community informed as the PHO provides any updates related to the services we provide.
Since I was appointed to Executive Director in June, we’ve also started a new home for a youth in Burnaby. In addition to in-person programming, we learned from the pandemic that we could enhance our offerings to the individuals we serve through online programs. As a result, individuals we serve have been accessing a variety of online programs from a partnership we developed with Spirit Club including fitness, cooking and wellness modules. This is the 2nd year CVS hosted online programming in the evening, including our most recent CVS Zoom Christmas Party on December 8th. We hope that in 2022, we will be able to safely get together in person more often especially at the holidays. One exciting change is that our Port Coquitlam location on Kingsway closed in November and we will be opening up a new Port Coquitlam based location in the new year. So, the past few months have been met with continued change but lots of hope for the future of CVS.
Like many other agencies in the community living sector, staffing has continued to be challenging throughout 2021. That being said, our HR team has worked tirelessly to hire qualified staff and we have been able to bring some new staff into the CVS team that are providing excellent service to the individuals we serve and their families. We continue to look for caregivers in our Shared Living and Children’s Respite teams as demand continues to climb for these caregiver positions. We hope that we will be able to secure more caregivers so we can continue to help these adults, children and families who so desperately need the support.
CVS continues to focus on finding employment opportunities for the individuals we serve. In addition to our employment, both of the social enterprises developed by the individuals we serve at CVS are thriving. DisDaBomb - our bath bomb business - moved into its new location at 2342 Clarke Street in August and has been experiencing record sales ever since. Our dog walking business, adVentures Dog Walking, is back up and running and the individuals who walk dogs in the community are really enjoying being out and about with the dogs once again. I am so excited to see the success of these businesses and look forward to seeing what 2022 will bring.
The past few months have also been a time for celebration and remembrance. Like all of Canada, CVS marked the first 1st National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th. We have adorned the front of our main building in Port Moody with Every Child Matters signs to signify our commitment and support of the indigenous communities across BC and Canada. As always, we honoured the fallen through our observance of Remembrance Day. In October, CVS invested a lot of time to promote Community Inclusion month across our local community. This included signage, advertising and a launch of a new exhibit at the Port Moody Station Museum entitled - Community Inclusion: Our Journey to Community. CVS partnered with the Port Moody Heritage Foundation, Inclusion BC and the BC Self Advocacy Group to deliver this exhibit and we are so proud that a few of the individuals we serve are featured in the exhibit. If you have time to visit the exhibit, it is well worth it and there is lots of time to do so as the exhibit is open now until Summer 2022.
In early 2022, we will start working on our new strategic plan and I look forward to reaching out to everyone in our community in the coming months for everyone's input. Our CVS leadership team is excited to start this process so we can continue to grow CVS and develop its mission to the individuals we serve, families, staff and to our community.
We also want to take this time to wish you all a wonderful time over the holidays and we look forward to serving you in 2022.