Building Community Through Meaningful Connections
In July I attended a Surrey Board Of Trade Summer Sizzle function at the Eaglequest Golf Club in Surrey.
It was professionally presented with a strong business participation, and great networking. At the event, I
had the opportunity to meet Shari Hauptkorn from the Semiahmoo House Society and I was intrigued by
her passion for the organization. We passed business cards and shortly after Shari invited me to take a tour
of their facility in South Surrey. I was instantly impressed by the positive vibe the Society gave me.
Everybody seemed to be really enjoying what they were doing.
Shari met me at the lobby and commenced to give the tour. Shari and her partner Crystal Dixon are the
Employment Specialists for the Customized Employment Program. Shari showed me the different departments
and activities their associates are participating in along with achievements they have made.
A little background about the Society, in 1978, the White Rock Society approached the Semiahmoo House
Association about the possibility of amalgamation. Together the two societies formed the Semiahmoo House Society- providing
"one-stop" services for people with mental disabilities; the Achievement Centre and Go-Getters club for day
programs and the Fir Acres Estate for residential services.
Shari’s message to me was still based strongly on the original foundation from 1978.
Semiahmoo House Society offers a variety of services and programs. Once someone joins a program at
Semiahmoo House, the goal is to support them leading to employment. The society does this by first supporting
them so they gain life and social skills, then acquire work experience through the Employment Training and
Support Program, and finally join their Customized Employment Service.
Semiahmoo House Society’s Customized Employment Service is one of three employment services for people
with disabilities in the Surrey/Delta region. There is a constant demand for these services from job seekers and
their families as many people are capable of work and need a little extra support to help these individuals gain
employment. Two thirds of the people joining this service come from Semiahmoo House programs, the
remaining third are recommended through Community Living BC (CLBC). In order to qualify for their service,
you must be funded through CLBC in some capacity.
They work closely with employers to provide education to staff and foster natural supports for the employees
who use this service. Their inclusive employers are leaders in the community who see the value in hiring
people of all abilities and they are having the first annual employer appreciation dinner in October to honor
the exceptional work these companies do to strengthen each community that is served.
Shari shared with me one of the many success stories that have come from the Society.
Ryan Robson Story
Like many young men in their twenties, Ryan Robson has already had a few jobs. Some of which fared very
well, while others had a weary effect on him. He recalls an employment experience where he became increasingly
stressed and despondent. It occurred to him at the time that he didn’t fit in with the organizational culture and
wasn’t offered sufficient hours to sustain himself financially. After some soul searching, he made the decision
to quit. “I felt a weight had been lifted,” he says.
While he was taking time to focus on getting mentally healthy again and ponder about his career path, he
heard of Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) through a connection of his. After consideration, he applied and was
accepted to enrol in SHS’ Employment Training and Support (ETS) programs where he learned new job skills,
including marketing himself to potential employers. While attending his programs at ETS, he demonstrated
such hard work and dedication that his supervisor determined he was ready for the next step: employment.
So, he introduced Ryan to Shari Hauptkorn, Job Developer with SHS’ Customized Employment (CE) services.
Shari assessed him and quickly recognized that he would be a suitable candidate for her services which entail
facilitating employment for people supported by SHS. During one of their meetings, Shari described a job
opportunity to Ryan and asked him if he would willing to interview for it. “His whole face lit up,” says Shari.
“He couldn’t stop talking about the possibilities for employment and how much it meant to be financially
independent. He excitedly agreed and we both made the necessary arrangements.”
While riding in the car with Shari, who was driving him to meet the potential employer, Ryan talked about the
importance of staying optimistic, no matter what life threw his way. “Can I tell you something?” he asked.
“If you only focus on the good things, then life can’t be any more better!” Ryan’s positive outlook paid off and
he got the job.
Now employed and earning a living, Ryan can dream of a future where he can move out of his parents’ home
and get his own place in Cloverdale or Langley. He even envisages the possibility of getting married to his
girlfriend, Katrina, whom he’s known for 20 years. “We’re kindergarten sweethearts”, he says with an enchanted
smile. “She’s very sweet and highly caring. She loves cats so much that she works at the cat shelter in Langley.”
Ryan and Katrina like to stay active by going swimming, bowling or walking. They also enjoy going out for dinner
and watching movies together.
When asked about his learning experience at SHS, Ryan describes it to be “the most magnificent.” In fact,
what’s truly magnificent is the power of this young man’s buoyant life philosophy to find his place in the world,
to overcome obstacles and to stay the course.
By Louise Tremblay, The Semiahmoo Foundation
Share Ryans Story
Not only Ryan and people with disabilities in the community can benefit from the Society. I believe that
businesses and regions Semiahmoo House serves will thrive as the Customized Employment Program grows.
This has become an essential resource that does not waste the talent of great individuals. Their contribution
becomes an inspiration to people around them and allows abundant personal development. Companies should
not be missing out on the opportunity to hire these determined and skilled employees.
My CFO Rory Bamford had the opportunity recently to participate in the Semiahmoo House Society’s 10th
annual golf tournament. He ended up having lunch with Mr. Doug Tennant and Mr. Rich Gorman the Chief
Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for Semiahmoo House Society. Rory said, “seeing their genuine
care for the people and communities they serve is refreshing and humbling.” The organization is thrilled that
they have completed their housing project that began the planning stages over 13 years ago. This program
gives opportunities for disabled individuals to live independently in a place they get to call home. Doug also
introduced Rory to Larry who radiates joy and is one of Semiahmoo’s energetic ambassadors. If you have a
chance to attend one of the society’s upcoming events, Larry will likely be there to greet you with a smile.
In conclusion, the society’s message is simple:
“The Goal is to create awareness about disabilities of this overlooked pool of talent and facilitate a connection
between job seekers and potential employers.”
We at Crownsmen Partners support and endorse the Semiahmoo House Society as an essential resource needed
in the community. If you're looking for trained skilled employees, please contact the Semiahmoo House Society.
Following is the link to their website, and by clicking on the “What We Do” section you are able to learn more.
Also, check out their Facebook page for more upcoming events and past highlights.
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