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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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

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.

After overcoming an array of obstacles, Corey reached out to ASK Wellness Society to seek assistance with finding housing. While Corey’s journey with ASK started with a housing search, it has continued on to so much more. This is Corey’s story.

Today, December 3rd, marks the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We acknowledge that ableism remains present in our societies, and highlight the importance of ongoing work towards education and inclusion. Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. On IDPWD, we celebrate the challenges, opportunities and abilities to overcome barriers of persons with disabilities. We are grateful for these successes and contributions made to our societies.

Today, we are also excited to introduce you to Leah Pascoe and Jayme Daniels. Leah, who has been with ASK for six years, and Jayme, who has been with ASK for seven years, are the two Coordinators of ASK’s Community Living program, supporting individuals with diversabilities. We sat down with the two of them and Community Living Program Mascot, Trigger, to learn more!

🔵 WHAT LED YOU TO BE INTERESTED IN WORKING FOR ASK WELLNESS/THE SOCIAL SERVICES FIELD?

👩🏼Leah: I am passionate about social work because the principles and values of ASK Wellness and this career connect with my own values. Making a difference in my community is something that drives me everyday.

👩🏽Jayme: I always knew that I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know in what capacity. After finishing my Human Services Diploma, I applied at ASK and was offered the Community Living Life Skills Worker position. I have stayed with ASK because I love the work culture and stand behind the work we do in the community.

🟢WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITHIN ASK?

👩🏼Leah: I love knowing that my work makes a positive difference in someone’s life.

👩🏽Jayme: I’m most proud of the passion I see in our staff and the difference they make in their clients lives.

🟠WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

👩🏼Leah: I love anything to do with being in nature. Mountain Biking, hiking and horseback riding are my favorite activities.

👩🏽Jayme: In my spare time I spend as much time as possible with family. I also like cooking, reading and going for walks.

🟣WHAT IS ONE THING YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

👩🏼Leah: My dog Journey and a cup of Chai Tea.

👩🏽Jayme: I can’t live without chap stick or my boy, Trigger.

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

👩🏼Leah: That I have a horse.

👩🏽Jayme: Winter is one of my favorite seasons. I love ice fishing and skiing.

🟡TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILTIES. IT AIMS TO PROMOTE THE RIGHTS AND WELLBEING OF PWD AND INCREASE AWARENESS. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO GET OUT TODAY?

👩🏼Leah: That people with disabilities are people. They have the same needs as everyone else and; just like everyone else they need to be treated with dignity and respect.

👩🏽Jayme: I was given permission to use this quote from a well-known community advocate with diversabilities: “Start making connection with hi; there is a friend in me and a friend in you.”

We’re excited to introduce another fresh face to ASK Wellness Society, Greg Chartrand. Greg started working for ASK three months ago, after completing his 4th year summer practicum here for his Social Work degree at Thompson Rivers University.

WHAT LED YOU TO BE INTERESTED IN WORKING FOR ASK WELLNESS/THE SOCIAL SERVICES FIELD?
🟣 I have always wanted to work with people and be able to help them out in some capacity; therefore, I chose a Social Work degree.


WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITHIN ASK?
🟡 I am proud to be a part of the team at 433 (Housing Outreach Program). We are here to listen and help where we can.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
🟢 In my spare time I like to snowboard and listen to music.



WHAT IS ONE THING YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
🔵 Coffee!

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

🟠 One thing people do not know about me is I am a successful bone-marrow donor.

  

Greg has been a wonderful addition to the 433 Tranquille office team & is making a huge difference in the lives of those who access our Housing Outreach services. Thank you, Greg, for all that you do!

ASK Wellness Society (ASK) and Interior Savings are excited to announce their partnership. With a $10,000 grant from Interior Savings’ Community Investment Fund, ASK will expand training opportunities for program participants and diversify their revenue.

The Mattress Recycling Program is a supported employment initiative intended to provide meaningful employment opportunities to barriered individuals. The program is designed to reduce barriers to support individuals to remain gainfully employed, through access to transportation, meals provided at work, and accommodations to ensure the health and wellbeing of program participants. The program’s community impact is two-fold; while assisting marginalized and vulnerable adult populations to become financially empowered, contributing community members, a key operational component is the significant environmental impact of the program.

Every month the program recycles between 800 and 1000 mattresses in the Kamloops region, diverting all mattress materials from our local waste stream, apart from the mattress fabric. By recycling 85% of mattress components, the program is not only contributing to a circular economy, but also helping to extend the lifeline of our regional landfills.

Cheryl Doolan – Director People Experience and Employment, ASK, Connie Hum – Branch Manager, Interior Savings Lansdowne, Janna McConechy - Branch Manager, Interior Savings Valleyview, Lori Bushill - Branch Manager, Interior Savings Tranquille, Derek Dixon - Branch Manager, Interior Savings Summit, Patti Moores – Employment Development Lead, ASK

While the program runs in partnership with the City of Kamloops, only 75% of funding is covered by operational revenue. The other 25% of operating and program costs are shouldered by the ASK Wellness Society, relying on community funding and donations to support the revenue gap. This highlights the critical impact and significance of the partnership with Interior Savings.

“We’re proud to play a role in helping organizations build for the future”, says Kathy Conway, CEO of Interior Savings.

“This is an investment in our community, our planet, and in the future of individuals who are taking steps to build confidence and fulfill their potential. It’s a wonderful example of local money for local good.”

The grant from Interior Savings will support the purchase of new power tools vital to the program’s latest project of expanding their repurposed wood production. Currently the wood is recycled into pallets and sold to a company that ships across Canada. The new tools will help in the production of planter boxes and firewood bundles. This new production line will also ultimately result in increased skills and abilities for those working at the program.

“The employment of individuals who would otherwise be outside the workforce and the positive environmental outcomes from the mattress recycling plant operated by ASK are some of the most important efforts of our agency,” says ASK’s CEO, Bob Hughes.

“Throughout the recycling process, we require extensive equipment and tools that we have no budget for. The donation by Interior Savings will make the work site safer, increase revenue, improve efficiency, and help keep the program operating into the coming years. Recognition by Interior Savings of our efforts to create meaningful employment for those living with employment barriers provides us with further inspiration to deliver this important social and environmental program.”

ASK Wellness is pleased to announce that Cookies Place will be opening soon. Cookies Place is 55+ Housing located in Aberdeen.

If you would like to apply please click the button below

Meet Jenna Keetch! Jenna is a fresh face to the ASK Wellness Society team; she started working with ASK in July. Jenna is the Executive Assistant for Bob and Kim, the agency’s Chief Officers – or as Jenna refers to the role… she is the “Super Organizer of the Grand Poobahs”.


WHAT LED YOU TO BE INTERESTED IN WORKING FOR THE SOCIAL SERVICES FIELD?
🟣 I have spent almost my entire career in the social services field, it is my passion to help people and to make sure that my community includes everyone who lives in it and cares for those who need it.


WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITHIN ASK?
🟡 It makes me proud to hear and see the differences we make in people and community.  My position allows me to see the vast amount of work we do in so many ways and all the good work we do, it makes me proud of where I work.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
🟢 I've started a cardio program so I can chase down Bob a little easier, lol.  I love to spend my weekends on a backroad with my dog and camera under the stars in the middle of nowhere.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
🔵 My camera, it lets me see the world through a different lens and helps me see the beauty in the world.

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

🟠 I lived in Northern China and speak Mandarin (very rusty these days).

Jenna has been an amazing addition to the ASK administrative team, making life easier for not only Bob and Kim, but also for staff across the agency. While those recently improved cardio skills are impressive, it is her mega-organizational skills and great sense of humour that are most appreciated. Thanks for all your hard work, Jenna!

If you are local to Penticton, you may have recently noticed a group of folks in Hi-Vis vests strolling around different areas of the community, collecting littered garbage and paraphernalia. At first glance, you may think that these individuals are dedicated City workers, but that is simply not the case. If you were to look a little closer at their vests, you would notice the logo of the ASK Wellness Society; these individuals are peer workers within ASK’s Penticton Ambassador Program.

For those new to the city of Penticton, you may be asking yourself, “Who is ASK Wellness Society and what is the Penticton Ambassador Program?”

ASK Wellness Society is a social services agency based in the Interior that currently provides housing services for marginalized individuals in the community of Penticton. The agency operates two supportive housing sites in the city, which are facilities designed to provide vulnerable members of our community with safe and affordable housing. These programs, with the support of provincial funding, also provide support staff who work individually with program participants to enhance their job readiness, as well as personal growth and development. The two housing sites collectively provide 105 units to individuals who were previously unhoused.

Initially, the Penticton Ambassador Program began as the “Sunday Community Clean-Up” crew, which was a small, more informal project where one or two program participants would go out with an ASK Wellness Society staff member to clean-up the area surrounding the Fairhaven supportive housing building. It was a gradual process of fostering engagement; however, with some persistence and encouragement from the Fairhaven Coordinator, it started to catch on with additional residents volunteering to participate each Sunday.

“At this time, I believe those who continued to take part in the program were already feeling the positive effects of giving back to the community,” says Keith Girard, tenant support worker and project lead who has spearheaded the project since its initiation.

With pride, Keith shared, “At its core, the community clean-up is intended to offer our residents valuable experience and opportunities, as well as instill a sense of pride in our community and community-member relations.” 

Keith adds that even in its early stages, the benefits of community clean-up were clear and demonstrated the importance of community and connection. “While out on our walks, community members would wave and thank us for what we were doing,” he says. “One couple who would see us cleaning the alley behind their house even came out to introduce themselves and gave us an extra litter grabber.  These interactions seemed to give those who participated a feeling of accomplishment.”

There have been additional unanticipated benefits to this collaborative endeavour. Along with feelings of accomplishment, Keith also found that while out in the community, the program participants tended to be more open about sharing personal stories with him, which in turn added a layer of trust to their relationship.   

What started as a small project slowly snowballed into a much more ambitious and impactful venture. With the support of BC Housing’s funding the program was able to expand the Sunday Community Clean-Up into the Penticton Ambassador Program. As it currently stands, the Penticton Ambassador Program operates four days a week, starting in the neighbourhoods near ASK’s two supportive housing sites. Each of the Ambassadors are ASK Wellness Society residents who receive stipends in gift cards to local businesses.

The launch date for the program was August 5th, 2021 and since that date we have had 20 different individuals participate, with most people eager to take on the shifts when available. Since the launch, the program has retrieved 55 sharps from all different areas around Penticton, though there has been a heavy focus on the Downtown and the South End areas. The program has also collected 99 bags of garbage, or approximately 2,000 lbs of waste.

It is evident from both participant feedback and public reception that the program is fostering positive change. The intent of such of a program is multi-layered. For the individual participants, it develops and enhances pre-employment skills and work ethic, fosters a sense of pride and ownership, and allows for folks to once again start to feel like a member of a larger community; not someone living in the margins of it. One Burdock resident stated, “I like that as a person with a disability, I can still do the work.” Another active participant residing at Fairhaven was more impacted by the community response, stating, “I like the reception we get while out in the community. People waving and smiling.”

We appreciate and don’t underestimate the impact of the positive reception shared by many in Penticton who have noticed, reacted and commented on the work of the Ambassador Program. For example, when on a particularly hot day one of the staff from Jaffer’s French Fry food truck downtown took the time to leave the truck and personally give each member of the crew a bottle of water. Perhaps some of the most positive reactions have been when people who are currently facing homelessness have been so inspired by witnessing the program that they have joined in and offered to assist.

From the beginning, the sense of accomplishment and increased self-worth from our participants has been extremely evident. This sense of achievement and purpose has only grown as a result of positive reception received by folks from all walks of life.

If you appreciate the work of the Ambassador Program, let us know. When you see the crew, just know that a simple honk, a wave, and a smile can go a long way.

Meet Keith Girard! Keith is a Tenant Support Worker at our Fairhaven building in Penticton.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PART OF THE ASK WELLNESS SOCIETY TEAM?
🔴 Since October 2020


WHAT LED YOU TO BE INTERESTED IN WORKING FOR ASK/THE SOCIAL SERVICES FIELD?
🟣 Life experience led me into this field. After completing the HSW diploma program, I found ASK while searching for employment.  

WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITHIN ASK?
🟡 What I enjoy most about working with ASK is being able to develop positive relationships with our residents and having the freedom to explore new program ideas.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
🟢 Most of my spare time is spent with my two children. I also enjoy watching combat sports.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
🔵 I could not live without my family....and coffee.

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

🟠 I am a phenomenal soccer player, some would say the best ever. 

Keith is a huge asset to our Fairhaven supportive housing program, as well as to other Penticton programs. Keith has recently spearheaded the Penticton Ambassador Program which provides pre-employment opportunities for peer support through community cleanup. Thank you for all your hard work, Keith. We’ll meet you on the pitch to see those skills in action!

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