The ASK Wellness Society would like to acknowledge that our programs and facilities operate on Secwepemcúl'ecw, Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ, and Syilx tmixʷ traditional and unceded territories.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

Today we are excited to introduce you to Stephanie (Steph) Winston! Steph joined the ASK Wellness Society team in February 2022 and for the past five months has been working as an Administrative Clerk. Steph is certainly not a one-word wonder. We were happy to chat with Steph and get to know all about her extensive (incomplete) art projects and her love of adventure! 

WHAT LED YOU TO BE INTERESTED IN WORKING FOR ASK WELLNESS SOCIETY?
I have always had an interest in, maybe even a passion for, working in the social sector. The compassion and strength that ASK exudes absolutely pulled me in! The Society has done, and will continue to do, great things for folks who need it most. I am proud to be a part of that.


WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITHIN ASK?
All the little ways I can help out. By taking on extra tasks to help free up time for others, I have had the opportunity to assist in several departments. This has helped me understand how they all interconnect and ways that I can help improve the overall flow. I like getting to learn all the different processes, and especially love to meet and chat with folks when they come by the People Experience office.

WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT WORKING FOR ASK?
The atmosphere, 100%.  I actually WANT to come to work.  My colleagues have been so warm and welcoming, and I feel valued here.  ASK fosters such an inclusive, open, and diverse attitude, which absolutely makes me hope to be here for the long haul!  The resilience I see day to day from staff who are committed to helping out program participants and coworkers is inspiring! It also fans my own commitments towards help and change.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
I like to think about and plan all the cool art projects I want to do… but will likely never ever get around to. I have a bad habit of seeing something I think is neat, thinking it’ll be quick and easy, getting all the supplies and then promptly putting off starting it. But seriously, I love to camp and explore, and I will be the friend who takes four hours to do a 2 km walk because I stop to look at all the little things along the way. I’m also the person who will bring home that cool looking rock… just because!   

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Oof, this is a tough question. Probably books.  I have enough to open my own library and have been known to come home with a copy of a book I already own because I forgot I already own it, haha.  My dream is to one day build my own personal library room with all of the little reading nooks and comfortable pillows!

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

I have a scar from being attacked by a lion in Mexico, and my double-jointed elbows seem to weird people out.  I believe that there is a silver lining in everything, sometimes you just have to be a little weird to find it.

Well, we are extremely curious about this lion situation, but we’ll follow up on that one some other time… Thank you for all your hard work and support to our various departments, Steph! You have been a glowing light addition to our administrative team!

In June, we recognized both National Indigenous Peoples Day and Indigenous History Month. Throughout the month, we acknowledged the importance of celebrating and recognizing the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.

Even though we have turned the page on the calendar, ASK Wellness Society encourages all members of our staff team to continue to learn about Canadian Indigenous History. We continuously seek to find new ways in which we can better support and work more collaboratively with our Indigenous peers, program participants and communities. Each member of our team is required to participate in Cultural Awareness training, and below we have shared some additional resources. If you are aware of other educational programs or learning tools, please share them with us to add to our list of resources.

Resource List:

Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc (TteS) website History page [with We Will Always Be Here video link]: https://tkemlups.ca/profile/history/our-story/

Syilx Okanagan Nation History and Additional Resources: https://www.syilx.org/about-us/syilx-nation/

Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council Website: https://www.nntc.ca/index.html

Government of Canada Learning Resources: https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1621447127773/1621447157184

School District 73 Strategic Plan Artwork: Honouring Indigenous Voices [VIDEO]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrW7L0DEcvw

City of Kamloops Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc History: https://www.kamloops.ca/our-community/tkemlups-te-secwepemc/history

City of Kamloops Heritage & Culture [AUDIO included]: https://www.kamloops.ca/our-community/tkemlups-te-secwepemc/heritage-culture

Today, as the last day of June marks the final day of Pride Month, ASK Wellness Society is excited to share this alternate ASK logo that we have recently created. As a representation of allegiance and commitment to inclusion, one of our four core values, we are incredibly proud to have the “Progress Pride Flag” incorporated into our logo. We intend for it to act as a physical symbol in support of our 2SLGBTQ+ community. Some may not know the history of the pride flag and the symbolic representation behind each of the colours.

The Pride Flag has undergone multiple iterations since the “rainbow flag” was first created by Gilbert Baker in 1978. It was initially created to recognize and celebrate members of the gay and lesbian political movement. Intended to be a symbol of hope, each of the original eight colours were assigned meaning by the designer:

In 2018, the Pride Flag went through a change and is referred to as the “Progress Pride Flag”, which was designed by Daniel Quasar. The Progress Pride Flag was intended to be more inclusive.

As described by V&A Museum of Art and Design, “From one flag reboot to another, the coloured stripes are imbued with different meanings. For Quasar, the light bluepink and white stripes [added onto the left side of the flag] represent trans and non-binary individuals. The brown and black ones represent marginalized People of Colour (POC) communities. The black stripe has a double meaning, as it is also intended for those living with AIDS and the stigma and prejudice surrounding them, and those who have been lost to the disease. Quasar plays with the idea of a diverse community, and states that the fight for inclusivity needs to come from both within and outside the LGBTQ community – from all spheres of society. [Quasar states,] ‘This new design forces the viewer to reflect on their own feelings towards the original Pride flag and its meaning, as well as the differing opinions on who that flag really represents, while also bringing into clear focus the current needs within our community.’ ”

“And it was all Women who made this happen.”

As Bob Hughes, ASK Wellness Society’s CEO, spoke to the large crowd gathered in front of Cookie’s Place, many were coming to terms with the enormity of what had just been achieved.

“Cookie's Place” is named after the fearless volunteer who was a force for good during the AIDS crisis in the 80’s. Cookie Reimer played a pivotal role in the formation of the organization that would later become the ASK Wellness Society. The building had its official ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, May 27th, 2022 with more than 100 people in attendance. The guests and onlookers were unfazed by the ferocious wind that was ripping through the valley during the ceremony, and there were loud cheers with each speech that was given, but none more-so than for Cookie herself.

Despite a two-year pandemic and associated delays and challenges, ASK Wellness Society remained committed to complete this important project to provide housing for some of the community’s most vulnerable. There were many doubts about whether the project would be feasible at its inception, but the determination of a few key individuals ensured that we would succeed. It did just that, and now provides many people with a place to call home. Two of those key individuals who were present during the ceremony were Natasha Taylor and Bevin Brown, project managers from D & T Developments. Natasha and Bevin were referenced in Hughes’ earlier speech that gave a special shoutout to the female-led company. Leanne Maloney, Manager of Seniors Housing, was given recognition in the speech for her efforts towards the project and for her ongoing dedication to the residents at Cookie’s Place. Also mentioned were Kim Galloway, Chief Operating Officer at ASK and Pamela Jacobson, Coordinator of the Maverick Recovery Program, which neighbours the building.

Cookie’s Place has 37 units which are dedicated to people over the age of 55. Located in Aberdeen near the Aberdeen Mall, the facility offers one-bedroom suites, including two accessible units. 

For more information on the application process, please contact Leanne at l.maloney@askwellness.ca

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