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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Today marked a significant milestone for the Merritt community as we gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of Cedar Terrace. Located on Quilchena Ave, Cedar Terrace stands as a testament to our commitment to providing affordable, accessible, and specialized housing for residents aged 55 and above.

Cedar Terrace features 44 studio and one-bedroom apartments, meticulously designed to meet the unique needs of our senior residents. This four-storey complex not only prioritizes comfort and convenience but also ensures that our aging population can enjoy a supportive and dignified living environment. Over the past year, Cedar Terrace has become more than just a building; it has evolved into a vibrant community hub where seniors can thrive.

A drumming and singing performance sets the tone for the celebration.

The celebration began with a powerful and heartfelt drumming and singing performance, setting a respectful and uplifting tone for the event. The traditional invocation and welcome to the land reminded us of the deep roots and cultural heritage that enrich our community.

Dawn Himer from BC Housing spoke eloquently about the positive impact Cedar Terrace has had on both the seniors and the broader Merritt community. She highlighted the importance of such projects in fostering a sense of belonging and security among our aging residents.

Dawn Himer from BC Housing Addresses those in attendance

Bob Hughes concluded the event with a poignant message that resonated with all attendees. He emphasized the current challenges posed by the rising cost of living, urging the community to unite in making an effort to work together to solve many of the problems we face. Hughes also celebrated the resilience and pride of Merritt, particularly in the wake of recent floods that tested the strength of our community. His call to action was clear: we must continue to build and support senior housing to accommodate the growing number of elderly residents in Merritt.

Bob Hughes celebrates the community spirit of Merritt who have consistently come together during hard times.

The anniversary of Cedar Terrace is not just a celebration of a building; it is a celebration of progress, resilience, and community spirit. As we look back on the past year, we are reminded of the incredible strides we've made in providing affordable housing for our seniors. Cedar Terrace stands as a beacon of hope and a model for future developments aimed at enhancing the quality of life for our aging population.

As we move forward, let us carry the spirit of today's celebration with us, continuing to support and advocate for affordable senior housing. Together, we can ensure that Merritt remains a welcoming and supportive community for all its residents, young and old alike.

Today marks a significant milestone for the Kamloops community as we break ground at 346 Campbell Avenue for "The Confluence," an ambitious affordable housing project spearheaded by ASK Wellness Society in partnership with BC Housing and the City of Kamloops. This project aims to bring 80 new affordable homes to families and seniors with low to moderate incomes.

Why "The Confluence"?

“Part of the reason of calling it The Confluence really is the merging, the bringing together of people, culture and age,” said Bob Hughes.

“That intergenerational linkage in the building where we have families being able to live alongside their parents, aunts, uncles — we really see that as a unique creation in the vision. And we’re just getting underway on it now.”

Construction Timeline and Partners

With zoning, building design details, and funding finalized, construction is set to begin immediately, with groundbreaking ceremonies held today, June 6th, 2024. The building is projected to open in 2026, offering new homes to those in need.

“Today, we celebrate that next step in the journey of transformation that is happening right here on the North Shore. …Where once there was an underused parking lot and a liquor store, here we are building 80 units of affordable housing for families and seniors with low to moderate income,” Said City Councillor Katie Neustaeter.

A Unique Addition to ASK Wellness Society's Portfolio

ASK Wellness Society already owns and operates over 300 units of housing in Kamloops, providing homes across the housing spectrum. The Confluence stands out as it specifically targets families and seniors with low to moderate incomes, operating under the BC Residential Tenancy Act. This project aligns with ASK Wellness Society's mission of providing affordable housing, a mission they have diligently pursued over the past ten years.

Impact on the Kamloops Community

“These 80 homes will go a long way to support the future growth and development of the city,” said Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon.

The Confluence is not just a housing project; it is a commitment to the future of Kamloops. By providing affordable homes, it addresses the pressing need for housing in the community, offering stability and hope to families and seniors. This project will help reduce homelessness, improve living conditions, and contribute to the overall well-being of the North Shore community.

Today's groundbreaking ceremony symbolizes the beginning of a journey towards a brighter, more inclusive future for Kamloops. As construction begins, the community eagerly anticipates the positive impact The Confluence will have on the lives of its future residents.

Stay tuned for more updates as we watch this exciting project come to life!

ASK Wellness Society recently participated in a transformative training event hosted by Coby Fulton at Cultivate Leadership. This event was a vital step for ASK Wellness Society coordinators as they continue their mission to support individuals who are marginalized and at-risk through outreach, housing, health, education, and employment services. Coordinators traveled from across the region to be in attendance.

Cultivate Leadership: Empowering Organizations

Cultivate Leadership specializes in developing leadership skills through a variety of services tailored to meet the needs of organizations. They offer:

The training provided by Cultivate Leadership aligns perfectly with ASK Wellness Society's core values of inclusivity, trust, compassion, adaptation, and hope. By focusing on self-awareness, communication, influence, and learning agility, Cultivate Leadership helps organizations like ASK Wellness Society develop the fundamental skills necessary for effective leadership.

Impact on ASK Wellness Society Coordinators

For ASK Wellness Society coordinators, attending the training event at Cultivate Leadership was invaluable. The experience allowed them to delve deeper into the core values of the organization and explore ways to enhance their impact on the community. Key benefits included:

The collaboration between ASK Wellness Society and Cultivate Leadership underscores the importance of continuous professional development in achieving organizational goals. As ASK Wellness Society coordinators implement the skills and insights gained from this training, they are better equipped to lead their teams and drive positive change within their communities.

This training event is a testament to the ongoing commitment of ASK Wellness Society to uphold its values and mission, ensuring that they continue to provide critical support to those who need it most.

GG08-2024-0046 Ottawa, Ontario Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, presented a total of 64 Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division), including 8 Meritorious Service Crosses (M.S.C.) and 56 Meritorious Service Medals (M.S.M.), during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Ottawa Ontario on Thursday, March 21. Son Excellence la très honorable Mary Simon, gouverneure générale du Canada, a remis un total de 64 décorations pour service méritoire (Division civile), dont 8 Croix pour service méritoire (C.M.) et 56 Médailles pour service méritoire (M.S.M.), lors d'une cérémonie à Rideau Hall, Ottawa Ontario, le jeudi 21 mars. Credit/Mention de source: Mathieu St-Amour, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

ASK Wellness Society proudly announces the recognition of its Executive Officer, Bob Hughes, by the Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon. In a ceremony held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on March 21, 2024, Bob was awarded the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal for his outstanding contributions to the community.

With over 25 years of experience in the social services field, Bob has been a continuous and steadfast advocate for those in need. Under his leadership, ASK Wellness Society has undergone a remarkable transformation, focusing on housing initiatives and harm reduction strategies to improve the lives of marginalized individuals in Kamloops, Merritt, and Penticton.

"We are thrilled to see Bob's dedication and commitment recognized on a national stage," remarked Andrina Tenisci, Communications Director at ASK Wellness Society. "His visionary leadership has been instrumental in guiding our organization through significant challenges and opportunities."

Throughout his career, Bob has demonstrated a deep understanding of the complexities of addiction, homelessness, and social inequality. His innovative approach to community mobilization and partnership-building has earned him accolades from colleagues and constituents alike.

"We are beyond excited here," Andrina added. "It's a very proud moment for him and humbling for us to have him leading the charge at ASK Wellness Society."

The Meritorious Service Decoration, presented by Governor General Mary Simon, recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the well-being of Canadian society. Bob’s commitment to improving the quality of life for vulnerable populations aligns perfectly with the spirit of this prestigious honor.

"As an organization, ASK Wellness Society is honored to have Bob at the helm," Andrina concluded. "His leadership exemplifies the values of compassion, integrity, and resilience that define our work."

For more information on Bob click here

On February 1st, 2024 the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Job Fair proved to be a spectacular event, buzzing with energy as 110 employers gathered to connect with thousands of students, job seekers, and potential employees. ASK Wellness Society, committed to fostering career opportunities and professional growth, actively participated in this bustling affair. The results were nothing short of incredible, as we engaged with a multitude of talented individuals, received numerous resumes, conducted speed interviews, and experienced a surge in website traffic. Check out the CFJC feature here.

Impressive Turnout

The sheer scale of the TRU Job Fair was awe-inspiring. With 110 diverse employers spanning various industries, the event provided a fertile ground for networking and collaboration. ASK Wellness Society eagerly joined this dynamic environment, ready to connect with individuals seeking meaningful employment opportunities.

Engaging with Talented Individuals During Robust Recruitment Efforts

Our booth at the job fair was a hub of activity as thousands of students and job seekers explored potential career paths. ASK Wellness Society was privileged to have meaningful interactions with passionate individuals, each bringing a unique set of skills and experiences to the table. The diversity in talent and enthusiasm was truly remarkable.

We received an astounding 58 resumes on the spot from qualified and motivated candidates, showcasing the depth of talent present at the event. The enthusiasm and interest expressed by potential employees fueled our excitement for the future.

Amidst the limited amount of time and space, we managed to conduct 23 speed interviews during the event. This fast-paced format allowed us to assess candidates efficiently, gaining insights into their skills, aspirations, and compatibility with our organization. The speed interview sessions were a testament to the high-caliber individuals present at the TRU Job Fair.

Online Engagement Surge

In addition to the in-person interactions, ASK Wellness Society witnessed a surge in online engagement.  On February 1st, 66 visitors explored our website's career page, demonstrating the lasting impact of our presence at the job fair. The increased traffic is a promising indicator of the growing interest in our organization and the opportunities we offer. In fact, we have already received 38 new online applications over the last 24 hours.

We Will Keep Coming Back

The event has undoubtedly paved the way for exciting collaborations and promising partnerships, reinforcing our commitment to creating a positive impact in the community through meaningful employment opportunities. We look forward to welcoming new talents into the ASK Wellness Society team and continue our goal of building a thriving, empowered workforce.

It also signifies that an organization or program meets standards of quality set forth by the COA accrediting body.

The Society was originally accredited in May 2019, as it became a requirement of one of our funders, Community Living BC (CLBC). Most recently in 2023, the Society embarked on the journey of reaccreditation, reaffirming our commitment to delivering top-notch services to their community. CLBC is the provincial agency that funds the Society’s Community Living Program, supporting adults with developmental disabilities. At the time, the Society had a choice to make, as there are two accrediting bodies in North America for social services agencies, CARF and COA. COA accredits an entire agency and reviews all programs operated by that organization. With the goal of ensuring all programs and services were continuously improving, the Society decided to embark on this journey with COA and to have the entire organization abide by the highest standards set in the sector.

So, what exactly is this accreditation buzz all about? Think of it as a quality assurance label. Just like a seal of approval on your favourite products or services, accreditation means an organization has gone through a rigorous third-party evaluation to ensure that they meet or exceed certain standards of quality, effectiveness, efficiencies, and ethical practice. Imagine it like a comprehensive health check-up. Just as you'd want a clean bill of health, the Society aims for positive reviews and outcomes when it comes to meeting these standards. It is not just about doing the minimum; it is about excelling in every aspect to provide exceptional support and services, while also looking to identify areas of improvement.

A Glimpse into the Reaccreditation Process

For the Society, this year’s reaccreditation process was about far more than just ticking off boxes. It was a chance to demonstrate our unwavering dedication to the community's well-being. While a recurring annual report is submitted to COA, reaccreditation occurs every four years. It requires a rigorous amount of work to be done and evidence to be submitted across a range of 13 standards, being rated on over 400 standard subsections. These include Administrative standards, such as Human Resources, Performance and Quality Improvement, Governance, and Finance, Operational Service standards, such as Training and Client Rights, and Program standards for all services operated by the Society.

The first part of the reaccreditation process involved the submission of “self-study” evidence. This digitally submitted evidence included 272 policies, procedures, reports, documentation, and administrative samples that show how the Society is abiding by the high standards set out by COA. The next step in the process was the submission of “on-site evidence” which involved the submission of hundreds, if not thousands, of additional pieces of evidence. All this evidence is reviewed by assigned Peer Reviewers, who are trained experts in the field and have worked for organizations who are COA accredited. As the final, and arguably most important step in the process, the Peer Reviewers participated in a three-day visit with the Society. This visit included reviewing sample personnel files and program participant files, conducting interviews with relevant frontline staff, directors, board members, and program participants relevant to each standard, and physically touring the programs’ building sites.

About the Peer Reviewers

The Society benefited from the feedback of two amazing Peer Reviewers, Kathy Cook and Yvonne McSkimming, who visited the buildings in Kamloops, Merritt, and Penticton. Kathy, Team Lead from South Carolina, had a background in education, residential homes, and treatment centres and has volunteered with COA as a reviewer, team leader, and Commissioner for over 25 years. Yvonne has over 39 years’ experience in the social service industry, with a PhD in Social Science and a Master’s degree in Leadership/Psychology, Yvonne was the founder and Executive Director of Synergy Collective Society, a non-profit organization on Bowen Island that works with other non-profit organizations to raise much needed money and inspire social responsibility. She currently works as the Clinical Administration and Standards Compliance Officer at the Orchard Recovery Centre.

A Soaring Success and Renewed Ongoing Commitment

Before the Peer Reviewers left, a summary of their findings, omitting the final ratings across the standards, was presented to members of the Executive team, Board members, and the Director of Quality Improvement. The summary discussion saw multiple members of the Society and COA team becoming visibly emotional, as heartfelt compliments were received and comments made on the hard work that is being done by the Society, amidst countless crises happening across the province. One reviewer reflected on how 7 out of the 9 program participants who they interviewed opened the discussion by stating “ASK Wellness Society saved my life” – before even introducing themselves and sharing their name.

Seven business days after the site visit concluded, the Society received an email from COA stating that we were expedited through the Pre-Commission Review (PCR), meaning the Society was reaccredited! This was a significant milestone indicating that we hadn't received any out-of-compliance ratings across fundamental practice standards, which are standards related to health, safety, and risk management. No out-of-compliance ratings across fundamental practice standards speak volumes about our dedication, hard work, and impact on the lives we touch.

Reaccreditation isn't merely a formality for all of us here at the Society; it's a reaffirmation of the respect and trust we have built across the communities we serve. It assures the community that they can rely on the Society for top-tier support, services, and care. This reaccreditation journey is also not a one-time effort. It is an ongoing commitment. The Society understands that maintaining high standards is not just about a single evaluation. It is about continually striving for improvement and staying true to our promise to the individuals that we serve. In essence, COA reaccreditation for the Society is a testament to the unwavering dedication to excellence. It is a mechanism to ensure we are being held accountable, as well as a testament to tireless efforts in creating a positive impact on the lives of the individuals we support. Ultimately, it is an assurance and commitment to the community that the Society will continue to uphold these high standards.

-- By Andrina Tenisci

On Friday, October 6th, 2023, the streets near 433 Tranquille resonated with steps of solidarity and purpose as ASK Wellness Society organized its annual “AIDS Walk for Life”. A reminder of the Society's foundational cause, the event connected dozens of community advocates and supporters of the cause.

Gathering at the back of 433 Tranquille, enthusiasm and unity was on display. At 11:30 am, the sun was shining as the walk commenced, drawing a line of passion and support down Tranquille Road toward Spero House. Once the walk concluded, attendees were treated to a BBQ served by volunteers, including Cookie Reimer, one of the founding members of ASK Wellness Society. The event saw a total of 92 people connecting and bringing awareness to light.

For those unfamiliar, ASK Wellness Society's roots dig deep into the heart of community service. Founded in 1992 as the AIDS Society of Kamloops, it began as an effort to promote health and wellness and to provide education to the Kamloops community while supporting individuals who were living and dying with HIV/AIDS.

However, as the years went by, the Society’s vision expanded. There were other pressing needs emerging - housing, health, and employment. Believing firmly in the housing-first model, the Society ventured into initiatives to offer individuals stable shelter, enabling them to then concentrate on their health and working toward employment. With the newer focus on the housing-first model and now most recently on recovery and employment efforts, the annual walk allows all attendees to be reminded of ASK's early beginnings. The Society began as a safe haven that provided hope to those who were marginalized and often forgotten. While it has adapted its mission and vision in recognition of the complex, multi-faceted needs of individuals, it continues to be that haven of hope

On a sunny day in Kamloops, BC, the green expanses of Pioneer Park buzzed not only with the whispers of leaves, but with the vibrant energy of teamwork and fun. ASK Wellness Society, an organization synonymous with community growth and support, played host to an incredible team-building event that took the form of Kamloops’ very own Amazing Race.

Eight spirited teams embarked on a grand adventure, leveraging their wit, agility, and teamwork to decipher clues as they raced through Kamloops' picturesque landscapes to various checkpoints. Each clue brought them closer to the finish line, but not without challenging them to embody the Society’s values of adaptation, inclusivity, trust, compassion, and hope - values that are the cornerstone of ASK Wellness Society’s philosophy.

The Journey

The exciting journey kick-started with “Something about Mary,” where teams were greeted by Mary, a team member who held the golden thread to their next destination at the Maverick Supportive Recovery and Career Development Centre. Fashioned as “hunting”, teams showcased their archery skills by shooting a bow and arrow at balloon targets. Each balloon held a question about the Maverick or about Indigenous history and culture. By answering the question correctly, teams were routed to the Yew Street Food Hall.

More Than Just a Race

The event was not just a test of speed but a celebration of community, a value deeply ingrained in ASK Wellness Society's mission. Once at Yew Street Food Hall, a series of cryptic pictures led people towards Harvest Moon Bakery, where a box of donated treats was given to each team. The teams dropped off the goodies at Kamloops Immigration Services, where they learned common greetings across various languages. This leg of the race allowed people the opportunity to learn about the essential services provided to new Canadians, while embracing the spirit of inclusivity and unity that Canada is known for.

A hilarious Diaper Relay awaited teams at the next stop, and while humorous, it highlighted the importance of early support through the Baby’s Head Start program, operated by Interior Community Services (ICS). Teams laughed, cheered, and exhibited fantastic team spirit as they raced to dress baby mannequins in a relay that symbolized the nurturing environment that the program fosters.

The teams then found themselves stepping back in time at St. Andrews on the Square, one of the oldest public buildings in Kamloops, enriching their journey with a touch of history. Here, they faced a creative obstacle course that demanded coordination and strategizing, truly exemplifying the essence of teamwork.

A Finale Filled with Reflection and Joy

As the race neared its end, the teams reached Riverside Park, where they were welcomed by the vibrant hues of the rose garden on the west end of the park. It was here that they took a moment to reflect on how they had embraced ASK Wellness Society’s core values throughout the race - a heartwarming pause that fostered deeper connections and enriched their understanding of community values.

Finally, the grand finale awaited at the water park, where laughter echoed as every member, including ASK Wellness Society’s Executive Officer, Bob Hughes, and event organizer, Cher Doolan, took a joyous slide down the waterslide in their regular clothing. It was a finale filled with laughter, a splash of water, and a celebration of togetherness, symbolizing the unity and fun that is central to ASK Wellness Society’s community ethos.

ASK Wellness Society Culture

During the week prior, the amazing staff in the Merritt programs raced through similar obstacles and solved riddles catered to their community. As we look back at these phenomenal days of team-building, camaraderie, and joyous celebrations, we reflect on what it is like to work at ASK, where you become a part of an organization that fosters fun and connection. While at times, the work of the incredible staff can be challenging, every day is a step towards building a healthier, inclusive, and vibrant community.

If you are interested in becoming a part of ASK Wellness Society, where we focus not only work, but also growing, learning, and celebrating together, then please check out our careers page. Let’s continue to foster a community where everyone is welcome, with hope and compassion driving us forward as a team.

And to the participants - thank you for the vibrant energy that you brought to the races!

 Introducing 

“The Confluence” at 346 Campbell Avenue, Kamloops, BC 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Sheet 

ASK Wellness Society, in partnership with BC Housing and the City of Kamloops, is proud to announce plans to construct 80 affordable homes located at 346 Campbell Avenue. 

Suite Breakdown: 

Building design details are provided above as a guide and are subject to change

What kind of housing?

The building will provide affordable housing for families and seniors with low to moderate incomes. Each home will have its own balcony, kitchen, and bathroom.

Why “The Confluence”?

Confluence: “a flowing together. In a literal sense, it is about rivers, but is more often used to talk about the coming together of factors, ideas, or cultures in a diverse city.” This name was chosen as we aim for the Confluence to be a building that brings together a diverse range of seniors and families, while also paying tribute to the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc lands and rivers.

When will construction start and when will the building open?

ASK Wellness Society and BC Housing are currently finalizing building design details and funding. BC Housing submitted a development permit application to the City with a preliminary building design on February 28th, 2023. Once all details are finalized, construction will begin.

The building design details and construction dates are preliminary and subject to change.

Who will be building The Confluence?

ASK Wellness Society and BC Housing have selected D and T Developments, a local, female owned-and-operated development company to build this new apartment building. The architect is Station One.

How is this building different from other ASK Wellness Society housing facilities?

ASK Wellness Society owns and operates over 300 units of housing in Kamloops, providing housing to people across the housing spectrum. The Confluence will provide affordable homes to families and seniors on low to moderate incomes. ASK Wellness Society has been providing affordable housing for families and seniors in the region for the past five years.

How was ASK Wellness Society selected to own and operate this development?

BC Housing issued a province-wide request for proposals in the winter of 2021 to the non- profit sector to submit applications for the construction and management of new affordable housing, under the Community Housing Fund. ASK Wellness Society’s submission for an 80-unit

building was successful.

Where is the development happening?

The Confluence will be built at 346 Campbell Avenue, Kamloops. ASK Wellness Society, in partnership with BC Housing, is under contract to purchase the 346 Campbell Avenue property from the City of Kamloops.

How will the project be funded?

ASK Wellness Society will receive funding to construct the building from BC Housing through the Community Housing Fund, once details are finalized.

About the operator.

ASK Wellness Society is a charitable not-for-profit housing and health organization that has operated in Kamloops for over 30 years. The Society operates over 700 housing units in the Interior of BC, including supportive housing, seniors housing, and family housing.

Who should I contact if I have questions?

Please reach out to ASK Wellness Society directly at info@askwellness.ca or at 250 299 2262.

BC Housing is also developing an interactive Let’s Talk Page which will be available at www.letstalkhousingbc.ca beginning in March 2023.

WHAT LED YOU TO BE INTERESTED IN WORKING FOR ASK WELLNESS SOCIETY?
I was previously working for lawyers, and I have always wanted to get into a society that helps others. I have personal experience and I am very compassionate.

WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITHIN ASK?
I feel that I have a purpose. The team I work directly with is amazing. The feeling I get with working for ASK Wellness Society is positive change.

WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT WORKING FOR ASK?
The amount of services and programs that are within the Society. It is amazing how much it has grown in only the 3 months I have worked here.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
I absolutely love movies. I am always on the hunt for hidden gems. Snowboarding is a second hobby of mine. I try to get out as much as I can with friends for hikes and outdoor activities.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
My cats! I love them to death.

CAN YOU TELL US A FUN FACT OR SOMETHING FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I am a certified Veterinary Assistant. I love animals. Unfortunately, my love for them is too strong, so I cannot do that as a full time job. I used to volunteer at Raps cat sanctuary in Richmond, BC to cuddle, feed and cleanup after over 600 cats who are there to live out the rest of their lives.

Thank you for all your hard work and support to our department, Lenaia! You have been a wonderful addition to the team!

 

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