Author Archives: Care

What’s New in HR?

June saw some new faces join the ASLS Team and a mat leave come to an end.

Taking a look back on June there were;

– 8 new Community Support Worker hires in the Grande Prairie Region

– 7 new Community Support Worker hires in Peace River & Grimshaw Region

– 2 new Health Care Aid hires at Stone Brook

Thank you to the 16 ASLS Team Members who Referred a Friend in June!

We would like to thank CCVO for the Parks Canada Discovery Pass we won after filling out the Alberta Nonprofit Survey. The pass is for all Individuals and staff to use! Watch for more details on Sharevision of how you can ‘sign out’ the pass.

HR Spotlight: Leah Chambers

Welcome back and congratulations to Leah!

Leah is back as a casual CSW after her 18-month maternity leave. She and her husband had a girl and her name is Lillian (Lily). Leah has been with ASLS since 2015 and we are very happy to have her back with us!


Until next month, happy July and have a great summer everyone!

Our 50th Stories: In the beginning

A group of concerned parents and community members came together to ensure their children received an education, forming a group that would advocate for the education of children with developmental disabilities.

At that time, children with developmental disabilities were not accepted into the regular school system.

On June 2, 1968, a meeting took place at Peace River High School and was chaired by Mr. Aubrey Teal with the Alberta Association for Retarded Children.

With over 30 people in attendance, a motion was made by Alvin Fowler to create an organization. That motion was carried unanimously.

Al “Boomer” Adair (CKYL Sales Manager and Sports Director) was elected as president and Alvin Fowler 1st Vice President. According to a letter from Al Adair dated October 7, 1992, he “was approached to get involved by a group of parents headed by the Fowler family from Deadwood.”

Also appointed were; Gerry Hachey as 2nd VP, Doreen Kroeger as Secretary-Treasurer and Joe Zinselmeyer as Communication and Public Relations.

The organization was registered under the Societies Act in 1969 under the name Peace River and District Association for the Mentally Retarded.

An Awareness Campaign was started soon after the organization was formed that included:

– Bake-sales

– Walk-a-Thon

– Flowers of Hope

– World’s Largest Easter Egg

– Baseball Tournament

– Pig Races

And $10,000 raised by 1970.

In 1969 the Association purchased land in Peace River for a school location and a classroom was rented in Falher to teach children with developmental disabilities. In 1970 there were two classrooms in Falher with 12 students. Mrs. Claudette Meardi was the first teacher in Falher.

Classroom in Falher

A portable classroom called Cosmos School was moved onto the land purchased in Peace River east of Glenmary School. It sat next to a dormitory called Sunshine House on the same property.

Jim and June Kenneway were the first dorm parents at Sunshine House. Mrs. Linda Ash (Mawer) and Mrs. Pam Towers were teachers at Cosmos School.

Donations from local businesses and community members furnished the living room, kitchen and eight bedrooms.

Soon after the opening of Cosmos School and Sunshine House, Falher members of the Association formed their own society.

An official opening for Sunshine House was held in 1972 that was attended by numerous community members as well as government officials including the Lieutenant-Governor of

Alberta who unveiled a plaque and planted a spruce tree in front of the home.

In was decided in July of 1973 the Peace River School Division would take over the responsibility of operating Cosmos School for the 1973-74 school year.

It was then that Sunshine House became a full-time group home.

Our Stories: Annette Williams

This is Annette’s story, our Advocator for Individuals ASLS supports

Annette has been with ASLS for two and a half years and was hired as a CSW.

Born and raised in Newfoundland, she lived in Ontario for 20 years before moving to Grande Prairie.

Annette has been married 32 wonderful years, has five children and 13 grandchildren!

Why do you stay?

“This is the most caring and supportive place I have ever worked for. They genuinely care for the individuals and the employees. When ASLS says we work as a team, it truly is a team and the best team I have ever worked for.”

Why did you want to take on the challenge?

“I love to work with people, and I hope at the end of each day I made everyone’s day just a little brighter.”

What is one of your fondest memories so far?

“There are so many fond memories but one that sticks out the most is the work I did with an individual getting him ready to move out on his own and prepare him for being on his own.”

What do you tell yourself when it is a stressful day? How do you practice self-care?

“I tell myself that no matter how stressful it is on me it must be so much harder for the individual. I was very bad on self-care in the past but recently I have learned to take time for myself just to relax and sit.”

What would you say to the founding parents if they were here right now?

“I would tell them that the work and support they give to everyone from the employees to the individuals cannot be matched by any other organization. They really give you the tools and support to do your job to the best of your ability.”

How has ASLS impacted your personal life?

“I can’t begin to say the positive way ASLS has impacted me personally. I have had so much support and care from everyone at ASLS especially in the past 10 months. Knowing that I had such a caring employer who supported me through that time meant more to me than words can say and I could never thank ASLS enough.”

Quick facts about Annette:

– She loves spending her spare time with her family

– She was a figure skater for 18 years AND played hockey for 8 years

Celebrating Our Diversity on Multiculturalism Day

It is Multiculturalism Day #MultiDay in Canada (June 27) and we would like to recognize and celebrate the multiculturalism at ASLS.

We are proud to say we have a diverse team working at this organization and also support a diverse group of Individuals.

In our most recent internal Cultural Competency and Diversity Survey, we found that 23% of our team members that took the survey hold a Citizenship in a country other than Canada and 20% shared that they were Landed Immigrants.

When asked what diversity means to them, some responded with:

“To me diversity is an acknowledgment of the characteristics that make each of us who we are. I feel that what makes me diverse has never been a determining factor of progression in my career with the organization. I feel I have been treated equally and with respect despite any differences.”

“Diversity is full inclusion of anyone’s background or belief system, it’s supporting and encouraging everyone to be individuals and express their differences.”

“Having a wide range of people, race religion, sexuality, or disability, but being as one community.”

At ASLS, we strive to learn more about cultural & religious traditions and customs of the Individuals we support as well as our Team Members, as laid out in our Accessibility Plan and Cultural Competency & Diversity Plan.

One way we are making that happen is by education through Cultural Diversity Training Sessions.

The purpose of each session is to help ASLS Team Members be equipped and empowered, build skills, and gain the tools necessary to be culturally flexible and sensitive to the needs of different people.

Recently some of our Team Members took part in Aboriginal Cultural Training. It was an opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding to further support Aboriginal Individuals in our care. A local Elder taught us about Ceremonies, Traditional Values, Family Structure, past present and future.

Multiculturalism – the presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society

Our Stories: Leah Larsen

This is Leah’s story, our Scheduling Assistant

Leah has been with ASLS for a little over a year and was hired for the Human Resources Administrator position.

Born in B.C., Leah moved to Saskatchewan in 1992 then Lloydminster in 2007 before settling in Peace River in 2013.

She is married to Baron and has two teenaged sons (Michael 17 & Nicholas 14) as well as a dog (Mercury 13) and cat (Jasmine 2).

Why did you apply?

“I had been in the accounting/office management field for most of my working life and wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something new.”

What is one of your fondest memories so far?

“There are so many. I always love listening to the Individuals tell me about their day and what was going on when I would walk through Stone Brook.”

What do you tell yourself when it is a stressful day? How do you practice self-care?

“On a stressful day, I remind myself to breathe and just take one task at a time. I remind myself that I am only one person and can get done what I can. I also like to make a list of tasks so that I can prioritize and that helps to keep the stress down.

Baking is a big self-care for me. I love being in my kitchen and creating wonderful treats.”

What do you do in your spare time?

“I spend a lot of my free time (which isn’t very much lol) baking. If you ask anyone that knows me, they will tell you that I bake a lot.

I also love knitting, camping, fishing and anything that is outdoors in the summer.”

If you could have lunch with anyone anywhere who and where would that be and why?

“I would have lunch with my Oma, and it could be anywhere.

My Oma passed away when I was young, and I didn’t get a chance to ask her everything I wanted to know about her.”

Cupcakes Leah made for the nurses at Stone Brook in Grimshaw

What’s New in HR?

We are introducing a new monthly blog series called ‘What’s New in HR?’ Once a month you can look forward to reading about the goings-on from our Human Resources department.

Every month we will share how many new hires, promotions and employee referrals there were in the previous month as we continue to support new Individuals in our community.

Taking a look back at May there were;

  • 5 new Community Support Workers in Grande Prairie Region
  • 10 new Community Support Workers hires In Peace River & Grimshaw Region
  • 4 new Health Care Aids at Stone Brook

And just how many ASLS Team Members Referred a Friend in May? 16! And so far of those two were hired!

There were also 5 promotions last month! Congratulations go to:

  • Taylor Arnold, Residential Program Assistant –> Program Manager, Grande Prairie Region
  • Julie Babbitt-Byrne, Peace River Residential Team Lead –> Program Manager, Peace River & Grimshaw
  • Mike Lindsey, Community Support Worker Float –> Westpointe Residential Coordinator
  • Isabelle Champoux, Residential Coordinator of Mackenzie –> Grimshaw Team Lead
  • Amanda Werny, Food Program Coordinator –> Residential Administrative Coordinator

L-R Taylor Arnold, Julie Babbitt-Byrne, Mike Lindsey and Amanda Werny

HR spotlight: Amanda Werny

Amanda started with ASLS in Grande Prairie in September 2018. She came to us from the Grande Prairie Public School District where she was an Educational Assistant.

Although Amanda started part-time in our Food Program as the coordinator, that changed to full-time in January when she accepted the Administrative & Food Program Coordinator role. She has recently been named Residential Administrative Coordinator, where she will assist Team Leads with Person Centered Plans across the organization. Our staff will also see her around offices and residences assisting with on-boarding, orientations, health & safety and ensuring we also provide the highest level of support.

So yes, she is very busy!

Practicing Self-Care While Supporting Others

How do you take care of yourself when you are taking care of others?

Supporting Individuals to reach their goals and ensuring they have the best Quality of Life available is what we love to do, but it can be very demanding both physically and mentally.

A few weeks back, we threw out the question “How do you practice self-care?” to our ASLS Team.

Here are some of the responses;

I practice Self-Care by singing in Smule apps, and karaoke at home, training my puppies and enjoying my bed after work😊😊

I practice self-care by listening to and exploring new music. It is amazing to find how many artists are virtually unknown but have such deep and meaningful lyrics, and then to find existing artists come out with songs that just ‘get’ you. Music has always been a comfort to me when I am feeling stressed. It drowns out the noise in my head with something positive, or something I can relate to on a deeper level and makes me feel lots better.

I practice self-care by:

– Going to the gym after work

– Using our EAP for counselling services

– Sewing, and

– Journaling

I love to laugh and sing. If I can find something to smile about then the stressful days become less stressful. For self-care, I like to do something creative like paint by number or cross-stitch or I just get outside with my sons and fly a kite.

First priority when I get home every day is to get a big hug and snuggle from my puppies, they are always so happy to see me it’s hard not to smile and be happy with them around. My husband and I have recently built a home gym, so we try and utilize it every other day. We also really enjoy cooking together, my favourite is cooking Italian. My love of cooking came from my Nona when I was young, she would give me and my siblings two options: cook or clean. I always chose cooking so I could taste test before dinner and then hit the couch after! Luckily, my husband shares my love of cooking, so we like to spend a good amount of our evening in the kitchen trying out new recipes or recreating some of our favourites.

I like to unwind with a hot cup of chamomile lavender tea and sit outside, enjoying the sounds of nature on our acreage after the kids have gone to sleep.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ― Audre Lorde