ASK Wellness Society's Values

An agency or company’s values help direct every person on the team towards a common goal and remind everyone of a shared bigger purpose. At ASK Wellness Society, we are proud to say that the core values of our employees and board members strongly align with those of the Society. This week, we will share those five values to help others understand what guides our services.

ADAPTATION: a way of adjusting to different conditions or uses, or to meet different situations.

This value was recently added during the creation of the Society’s new strategic plan. During times of complexity and uncertainty, we embrace new approaches and aim to be a learning organization.

INCLUSIVITY: the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

ASK believes that inclusivity is a defining feature of a healthy community. We acknowledge the disproportionate impact of harm to certain marginalized groups, whether that be due to having a physical or intellectual disability, belonging to a minority group, experiencing poverty, or any other individual or cultural reality. We aim to help provide people with the most basic human rights and resources, such as access to housing and access to health services.

TRUST: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

We truly believe that trust is at the heart of community, both in ASK Wellness Society, and throughout the communities that we serve. Trust is the glue that holds our society together. It strengthens relationships by allowing people to work together, to feel safe when vulnerable, and to feel a sense of belonging.

COMPASSION: a strong feeling of sympathy or empathy for the suffering or bad luck of others, and a desire to help.

Many people feel empathy, but the emotional response that leads to wanting to help with the situation is what defines compassion. Our fourth value of compassion is key to ensuring that no one gets left behind. Compassion is a very evident value amongst staff at ASK. This field can be challenging and heartbreaking, but our employees, board members, and volunteers are here because they want to be part of the change. They want to help those who need it most.

HOPE: a feeling of expectation; to cherish a desire to want something to happen or be true.

Our final value is hope. At ASK, we believe that hope is the key to becoming self-sufficient. We have been told in the past that this is what ASK Wellness Society is known for: providing hope to those who have lost it. Our roots began in providing hope and support to those who were struggling and feeling hopeless. Providing people with that hope helps allow them to believe in a happy, fulfilling life. This belief can lead to stronger feelings of independence and self-assurance.

12 Days of Gratitude with ASK

On the First Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful to our program participants and other community members who share their stories, in order to reduce stigma and help make others feel accepted.

Here’s Sheldon’s story:

On the Second Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

Shoutout to Cookie Reimer, who has volunteered since the agency’s inception in 1992. We’re grateful for her continuous support to ASK in everything we do, particularly in the time and energy put towards our AIDS awareness initiatives. Every year, she helps lead ASK’s AIDS Walk for Life and the World AIDS Day Gathering. This year, she helped raise $3,075 towards ASK’s Health Navigation and SHOP Programs. Cookie is our local hero and we’re eternally grateful for all that she is.

On the Third Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for the generous donation made by Marlin, Al, and Jerry, in Memory of their brother, Jim Newbery. “Jimmy” was a long-time volunteer of ASK’s Outreach and Overdose Prevention programs, who sadly passed away on September 29, 2022. Jimmy was very well known among the North Shore community, including by the @NSBIA, for his kindness and generosity. It was always important to Jim to check on others in need throughout the community, and to ensure that people were warm and fed. For that reason, his family chose to donate to the ODP and Outreach programs to access local food and winter items, such as gloves, blankets, socks, and toques, for those in the neighbourhood who need them.

We thank the family for their kindness, in his honour.

On the Fourth Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for the generosity of Lori Lavoie from the Groove. Lori looks to “fill the gaps” in community and support people in need through food, outreach and advocacy. Lori has learned the magic of working together and has collaborated with other businesses and agencies, including the Mustard Seed, Salvation Army, Thrift Cellar, SPCA and Second Chances Thrift, Kamloops Food Bank, Pizza Now, and Flutterbies.

Lori is a true community advocate who has also networked across the city of Kamloops to various grocery stores to generously donate food and care items. She believes in being part of the solution and in meeting people where they are at, in order to help get them to where they need and want to be. Thank you, Lori, for the endless food, joy, and support that you bring to our program participants. You are one of a kind!

On the Fifth Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for the thoughtfulness of our local neighbours and community members who have recently donated winter clothing, blankets, and other survival items. We have received many donations throughout the last month across Kamloops, Penticton, and Merritt, to help those living outside stay warm. You have not only kept folks warm, but you also helped provide care and hope. Thank you!

On the Sixth Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for our local Indigenous leaders and communities on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc, Syilx tmixʷ and Nłeʔkepmx Tmيxʷ Nations, as well as our local municipalities, staff, mayors, and council members at the @City of Kamloops, @the City of Merritt, and @the City of Penticton. We thank you for caring for these lands and for the governing of both the lands and the people who live on them. We also appreciate your thoughtful recognition and support of the efforts of our staff. We recognize the tireless efforts you demonstrate to support ASK Wellness Society and other Non-Profits, local businesses, and the community at large. Kukwstsétsemc.

On the Seventh Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for the family and friends of Thomas Jay (TJ) Finnen, who have donated to ASK Wellness Society in his honour. TJ is fondly remembered by ASK staff for his unforgettable smile that would light up during any interaction with a dog. In turn, he made the staff smile every time he sat down and played the piano. Throughout this past year, ASK has received $1,000 of monetary donations in TJ’s name. We are grateful to TJ’s family for their thoughtful consideration of the agency during a very difficult time.

On the Eight Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

Today is International Solidarity Day – a day to celebrate our unity in diversity, while encouraging new initiatives for poverty eradication around the globe. At ASK, we recognize that it is through working together that we are able to make the largest impacts. We are thrilled to give a shoutout to both our funders and our local community partners, who we work alongside in solidarity in order to support the most marginalized members of our community.

On the Ninth Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for the ongoing support and generosity of an anonymous group of givers who helped spread the cheer! This group coordinated the creation of 300 holiday gift bags for people who use our services. 300 people in our community will have the joy of receiving much needed items, thanks to their kindness.

On the Tenth Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for our volunteers who give their time for the benefit of our organization!

On the Eleventh Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for the donors throughout the past year(s) who have wished to remain anonymous in their giving. Your humble generosity has helped support our employment program efforts, including extending the life cycle of our Penticton Peer Ambassador Program. These programs allow individuals with barriers to employment the opportunity for job experience, skill development, and community engagement. Thank you for being a part of giving this gift to people, in order to ultimately allow them to give back to their community.

Check out the Penticton Peer Ambassador Program and the impact it has had on participants…

On the Twelfth Day of Gratitude, ASK shouted out to thee…

We are grateful for each and every staff member at ASK Wellness Society! Across a broad range of roles from front line support workers and outreach staff to our cleaning and maintenance crew, the cooking staff, peer employees, administrative personnel, program coordinators, and the management team – every single person plays a pivotal role here at ASK. We thank you for your ongoing hard work, dedication, compassion, and grit. You provide hope and support during times of such heightened uncertainty, amidst many challenges. We see the aligned values shared by our employees and the passion for the cause that binds us all together.

Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season. You show up every day and provide continuous kindness and compassion to those we serve; may you show that same kindness and compassion to yourself and your loved ones. The gratitude we have for you all is endless.

Sheldon's Story

By sharing Sheldon's story, we hope to work to reduce the compounding stigma's of addiction, living with HIV/AIDS, and racialized discrimination towards Indigenous peoples and other members of the BIPOC community.

Carrie's Story

My name is Carrie. I’ve been sober for four years and I’m a living example of ASK Wellness Society’s framework of Streets, to Homes, to Health, to Employment. I’m also an example of how it takes a community to support one person.

My story is complex. I struggled with significant substance abuse since the age of fourteen. I got myself into terrible situations and had terrible things happen to me for multiple decades. While facing my addiction, I was in and out of homelessness, using shelters and short-term housing for many years.

On January 8th, 2019, I exited homelessness for the very last time when I was accepted to the Maverick. Now, this was not my first time in intensive residential treatment. This was actually my seventh time in treatment. Lucky number seven! At this time, I was finally ready. And the supports were there when I was ready. Being in the Maverick was the first time that I felt a sense of hope. I never thought I was someone who could achieve sobriety.

It’s important for people to know that the continuous support that I received at the Maverick and the feeling of safety is what really made the difference. They supported me in ways that I’ve never had before. I had a safe home with caring staff, I had an addictions doctor, who I still have today, and I had a counselor through Interior Health, who I still see today.

That sense of hope and support has not left my side. I have been supported to secure long-term housing and I have returned to work. I was accepted to the Work Experience Program through the Maverick and worked at the Mattress Recycling Program for a year. This was my first job in over 25 years! I have graduated from the Work Experience Program and now have a permanent position within the Health Navigation Program. My job brings me my routine, stability, and purpose. I know that I’m doing meaningful work, using my skills, and giving back to the organization that supported me. My parting message is that I not only have a life, but I have a life of joy and purpose. That joy is because the work and support of community – ASK Wellness Society, Interior Health Authority, the RCMP, and the recovery community. And because of my own hard work.

The Importance of Your Vote

Good afternoon, everyone!

As you know, we are less than two weeks away from our municipal civic election. Our locally elected officials are responsible for making decisions that affect our daily lives as citizens, as families, and as a business community. These elected officials not only influence our jobs, but they help create safe communities for British Columbians and shape the long-term vision for our community. It is a high level of trust and responsibility being placed on these elected individuals to make decisions on our behalf. Because of this, we strongly encourage everyone to have their voice heard - by way of voting. We also encourage everyone to educate themselves on the mayoral candidates’ and the councillor candidates’ platforms. Learn about their vision, their beliefs and values, and what they plan to focus on in the city, should they be the successful candidate.

There are many resources to explore to learn more about each mayoral and councillor candidate – we are sharing only a small portion of those resources below. There are also many opportunities to learn more about candidates and ask questions through upcoming civic forums. Again, we encourage anyone interested to attend these forums to learn more about the future leader of your city, as well as respective councillors.

Local Forums

Kamloops

TUESDAY, OCT. 4, 6:15 P.M.

CFJC-TV and the Kamloops and District Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to host an all-candidates forum for councillor and mayoral candidates in the Grand Hall at Thompson Rivers University. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., with the forum beginning at 7 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 5, 7 P.M.

Kamloops This Week, CBC Radio and Radio NL are staging an all-candidates forum in the Grand Hall at Thompson Rivers University for councillor and mayoral candidates. It will feature a mayoral session, followed by councillor candidates answering public questions. You can attend in person and ask a question of the candidates or you can catch the forum online via KTW’s Facebook page.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 12, 5:30 P.M.

The Central Interior chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and the Association of Interior Realtors are hosting an all-candidates forum for mayoral and councillor candidates at Colombo Lodge, east of downtown at 814 Lorne St., on Oct. 12. Registration and networking will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the dinner event will run until 9:00 p.m. Voters planning on attending must first register on the CHBA-CI’s website.

Mayoral Candidate Profiles

Kamloops

Sadie Hunter: websiteKTW featureCFJC feature

Dieter Dudy: websiteKTW featureCFJC feature

Arjun Singh: websiteCFJC feature

Reid Hamer-Jackson: websiteCFJC feature

Ray Dhaliwal: websiteKTW featureCFJC feature

Merritt

Get to know the candidates: Linda Brown (current Mayor)

Get to know the candidates: Mike Goetz (former councillor)

Get to know the candidates: Tony Luck (current councillor)

Get to know the candidates: Mike Bhangu (former councillor)

Penticton

Get to know the candidates: Jason Reynen

Get to know the candidates: Owen Hayward

Get to know the candidates: John Vassilaki (current Mayor)

Get to know the candidates: Corey Hounslow

Get to know the candidates: Julius Bloomfield (current councillor)

Information on How/Where to Vote:

Kamloops

Merritt

Penticton

Happy researching and hope to see many of you this week at one of the forums!

Meet the Team: Jolien Lowley

WHAT LED YOU TO BE INTERESTED IN WORKING FOR ASK WELLNESS SOCIETY/THE SOCIAL SERVICES FIELD?
 I lived with addiction previously and wanted to help people in the community.

WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITHIN ASK?
 I am proud when someone walks out of my office with a smile on their face, knowing they will be okay. If I can only help by lending an ear, well that’s okay! Sometimes that’s all a person needs!

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
 Love to go for walks and park hopping! I’m also currently learning how to bead!

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
 Timmy’s and my kiddos

CAN YOU TELL US A FUN FACT OR SOMETHING FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?

 I recently learned how to long board and love it

The Housing Outreach team helps to find housing opportunities for those who are unhoused, provides rental subsidies, offers daily living and hygiene items for those in need, and connects folks to other resources in the community – among many other things! Jo leads the team through it all to make it happen and, ultimately, to help support thousands of people across our Kamloops community! Thank you, Jo, for all your hard work and your dedication in supporting our program participants. We hope you enjoy a summer full of beading, long boarding and time with your family!

Tenant Support Worker

City: Merritt
Program and Site Location:
Supportive Housing, Juniper
Reports To: Coordinator of Supportive Housing, Merritt
Term
Casual/On-Call up to a maximum of 40 hours per week
Wage Range: $21.11 to $24.61 based on education and related experience

The ASK Wellness Society is an Accredited not-for-profit organization through the generous support of their funders are able to assist those who are marginalized and at-risk to strengthen the communities we serve (Kamloops, Merritt and Penticton). We provide housing and support to those who are facing homelessness/at risk of homelessness and support those with substance misuse, mental health challenges, harm reduction, health education and ultimately provide the skills to re-enter the workforce.

What We Offer:

Effective November 1, 2021, the Society requires all employees to be fully vaccinated (as defined by Health Canada). Full vaccination will be required before commencing employment with the Society unless a legal exemption is obtained.

What is Casual/On-Call? Casual/On-Call means there are no guaranteed hours and work requirements may vary to a maximum of 37.5hours per week. Casual/On-Call is a great way for you to get to know us and for us to get to know you. It is also a gateway for future permanent positions within the Society. There are no rules with respect to declining shifts that do not work with your schedule that may result in removal from the casual/on-call list. 

Position Summary: As a Tenant Support Worker you will provide life skills services to Program Participants who may struggle with mental health concerns, substance misuse challenges and chronic health conditions. Within this role you will support Program Participants to identify individual goals and develop life skills necessary to live as independently as possible. Service delivery is based on a client centered, trauma informed and non-judgmental perspective.

Typical Duties Include:

Tenant Support Worker Responsibilities

Administrative Responsibilities

Qualifications and Requirements


The ASK Wellness Society offers assistance from an Employment Advisor.

If you self-identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, or Inuit) and/or would like assistance with the application process, job readiness, interview readiness or tips for resume and cover letter writing, we encourage you to contact us, and you will be redirected to our Employment Advisor.

The ASK Wellness Society is dedicated to promoting diversity/multiculturalism with inclusion as one of our Core Values.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or age.

How to apply: Please submit your application with a detailed cover letter and resume with the reference “Juniper Casual TSW” to  careers@askwellness.ca.  This position will remain open until the successful candidate has been found.   You may also apply directly apply online at https://askwellness.ca/careers/ 

30 Years of ASK

It was thirty years ago, on May 2nd, 1992, that the AIDS Society of Kamloops was officially founded. Its founder, Alfons Jalink, had started the work of the AIDS Society of Kamloops in his basement in 1988, and with the help of the Society’s first Executive Director, Mary Ann Sandrelli, formally established the Society four years later in 1992. The Society’s initial focus was on providing support to community members who were living and dying with HIV/AIDS, by supporting their health and wellness, providing comfort, and educating the Kamloops community in an attempt to reduce stigma.

Throughout the past 30 years, the core values of Compassion, Hope, Inclusion, and Trust have remained the ethos of the Society. Over the last three decades, our support has expanded and broadened to provide advocacy, housing and support services to other marginalized members of our community. We pivoted our supports and implemented a Housing-First strategy, and yet continue to address discrimination and stigma placed on the most vulnerable members of our societies. This has been what led to the Society changing its name in 2016 to the ASK Wellness Society, in order to better reflect the scope of the initiatives we are involved in within the communities we serve.

ASK’s humble and “boots on the ground” roots continue to guide our work. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, community reactions towards those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were not unlike the current reactions towards those living with mental illness and addictions today, as well as their family, friends and care providers.  We have always understood that the negative reactions towards those who are marginalized are often based on fear and a lack of understanding.  This has been the climate within many of the communities where ASK provides services.  Words of scorn, contempt and shame are shared on social media regarding those who struggle to manage their mental health and substance misuse or find themselves unable to work and access housing.  We know that those without homes, who are also experiencing other barriers to be meaningfully included in their communities, suffer disproportionately. ASK has always endeavored to be a safe and welcoming place for those who have nowhere else to turn, a place without judgment. We are known for our willingness to support each individual at whatever point they are at in their journey and for our commitment to help improve their circumstance, however possible. We know that ASK is criticized by some for helping certain individuals; however, without harm reduction and housing support, many of these individuals are at serious risk of harm and death. We truly believe that social justice for one group cannot be at the expense of other groups.

Many of those who we work with are living with seemingly insurmountable barriers. Addiction and mental illness can seem like hopeless causes, yet recovery is possible. It is what we see daily in our workplaces and our programs.  We see individuals standing tall and full of pride for their achievements of living in recovery in a home and participating in community through work and volunteerism.  In our work, we are in a constant process of balancing the need to act with compassion while also promoting and expecting personal accountability. This is at the heart of the work we do.

In reflecting upon our 30 years and where we now find ourselves, it is imperative to express our gratitude towards our funders, community partner organizations, our staff and volunteers, and the community members who support us across the cities of Kamloops, Merritt and Penticton. Through our collaborative services, you have helped us to provide hope and support, even during the most challenging of times. To improve upon the current housing and health crises we are facing, it truly will take a continuous collective approach. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with all stakeholders and advocates for the next 30 years, as we remain committed to demonstrating community service, and never giving up hope for a better tomorrow.

Article by Bob Hughes and Andrina Tenisci

A Message to Our Stakeholders

When I sat down to write this holiday note to the ASK family, my thoughts were running wild between everything that has happened over the past year, where we stand as a Society now, and where we are headed in the year that lies ahead. I started reflecting on our “Year in Review” and wondered how I would be able to effectively capture and summarize all that was 2021. Looking back, it’s hard to believe just how much has happened in a single year. Across our local communities, across our Society, across our nation, and across the globe, there were countless storms to weather, both figuratively and literally. While you were all there to witness 2021 first-hand, it is important to look back and reflect on what was endured and overcome, the positive growth and change that occurred, and the accomplishments and successes achieved. So many of you have not only faced the challenges of our work mandate in this social and environmental climate, but also have faced your own personal demands. Finding our own sense of hope that we espouse with our clients has been a critical commitment and collectively we have shown that ‘no one gets left behind’.

This past year has presented us with an array of challenges; the continuation of a Global Pandemic, an Affordable Housing Crisis, the half-decade point of a provincial Opioid Overdose Health Emergency, the unrelenting vengeance of Mother Nature providing deadly weather conditions throughout the seasons, and a hollowing reminder of Canada’s dark history of attempted genocide towards Indigenous peoples… to name a few. These challenges not only had a have a deep impact on our folks, but on each and every one of us as well. Yet, we did not waiver or move an inch in our fierce dedication to the values and vision of ASK Wellness Society. Looking at the challenges we faced, makes the work that has taken place this year that much more remarkable. I am proud that as an organization, on both an operational and individual level, we have committed to improving our cultural safety. We have accepted the need for change and improvement in our language, in our day-to-day practices, in our operations, and in our physical buildings. While we have strengthened our training with 2SLGTBQ+ and Indigenous workshops, it is only just the beginning. Strengthening cultural knowledge while removing biases will take ongoing work and dedication and I believe that while we have come a long way, we still do have a way to go on this journey.

This year we were able to continue to develop and deliver new programming and housing in each of the regions we serve. This includes the upcoming supportive housing program, Nx̌astwilxtn, that is set to open in our Penticton region in 2022. This recovery-focused supportive housing model will see us partnered with Ooknakane Friendship Centre, providing Indigenous cultural supports. We saw the initiation and development of the two 55+ buildings that will provide much needed affordable housing for seniors, Cedar Terrace in Merritt and Cookie’s Place in Kamloops. This year has also seen the adaptation of our Maverick program, from a transitional housing program to a three-tiered recovery program, an essential missing resource in our community. While we have seen the necessary growth of our housing supports to respond to community need, at the same time, it is clear that recovery and employment services have become an increased focus. Those two areas of focus will continue to be nurtured into the new year. It was fitting to conclude 2021 with our Annual Gathering on World AIDS Day, which allowed us all to pause and reflect on the critical work that we do, and ultimately to bring us back to our roots to remind us WHY we do it. 

Overall, I send out this message to remind you all to stop, take a breath, and be proud of the work and energy that you put into this past year. ASK’s greatest strength is our ability to remain united as a team in spite of whatever the universe throws at us. We are a positive force in our community and alongside our community partners, we adapt based on unpredictable changes and ensure those we serve continue to feel our commitment to them, as we provide them hope. I do believe that “managing and adapting through uncertainty” is a great catchall for what the ASK team has been able to accomplish throughout the year. During these times of challenge, along with community polarization, we succeeded in focusing on our mission and our purpose. This past year we have proven our unrelenting ability to not only keep the ship afloat throughout the storm, but to also navigate the ship towards safer waters for those aboard. Now, as the countdown to 2022 has begun, we approach our 30th year as a Society. It is awe-inspiring to think that we have been providing services to the most vulnerable members of our communities for almost three decades. I am incredibly proud of the work of ASK and remain excited and ready to forge on alongside you and lead you all into our 30th year ahead.

To each and every one of you – staff, donors, funders, volunteers, community members, partner organizations and business, and program participants, I thank you for your ongoing hard work, dedication, compassion, and grit. The respect and admiration I feel when witnessing the commitment of our employees and board members in providing hope during times of such heightened uncertainty is overwhelming. Please, continue to take care of yourselves and those around you. Wishing you, and your loved ones, a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!

Happy to have 2021 soon in the rear-view mirror and looking forward to 2022 with we a renewed sense of hope!

With gratitude,

Bob Hughes

ASK Wellness Society, CEO

ASK Wellness Society 2021 Highlight Reel

Happy New Year's Eve! To all staff, donors, funders, volunteers, community members, partner organizations and businesses, program participants, and anyone else who contributed to strengthening ASK Wellness Society's mission and vision in 2021, we THANK YOU and extend our deepest gratitude! 2021 was an eventful and trying year - alongside the challenges and tragedies that we faced, we also saw growth, resiliency, and successes! Enjoy this ASK Highlight Reel that captures many of those moments. Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year ahead; we look forward to the 2022 highlight moments to come.