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Category Archives: Our 50th Stories

Our 50th Stories: We’ve had a few names

In 1969, the Peace River and District Association for the Mentally Retarded organization registered under the Societies Act. It operated two schools and a dormitory called Sunshine House.

There were two classrooms in Falher and Cosmos School began operation in Peace River.

After Falher formed its own organization and the Peace River School Division took responsibility of running Cosmos School, Sunshine House was turned into a group home and the Society began the task of re-identifying its purpose.

The organization’s mandate changed in 1979 to include physical disabilities.  The organization’s named was changed to reflect that, becoming the Peace River and District Association for People with Special Needs.

Under the new name and mandate, the Independent Living Skills Program was created, and Individual Program Plans were introduced.

Other programs followed such as the Language Development Program and the Vocational Program.

As the organization continued to grow and evolve. The General Service Plan was established in January 1987 and in March of that year it was decided that the organization’s name be changed to the North Peace Community Living Society.

The Society’s two major focuses now were education and housing. More programs were added, and the Society developed businesses to serve as training and employment centers.

In 2003 the organization amalgamated with New Horizons and the Independent Living Society creating Accredited Supportive Living Society. This broadened our service area to include Grande Prairie.

Services and programs continued to expand and in 2006 the organization changed from a Society to an Incorporated Company: Accredited Supportive Living Services Limited. ASLS had 14 facilities in Grande Prairie, Le Crete, High Prairie, Grimshaw and Peace River and provided supports through numerous programs; Homeless Supports Program, Brain Injury Support Program, CAPCC Program, Family Support Program, FASD Support/ P-CAP Programs, Designated Supportive Living Program, Independent Living Program, Residential Supports Program and Behavioural Supports Program.

Who we are now.

The organization changed its name in July 2019 to Care Human Services Ltd.

Our CEO Rilla Websdale had this message to share:

We decided to take the opportunity of our 50th Anniversary of being a charity to roll out a new brand in 2019. Our new legal name will be Care Human Services Ltd.

We chose Care because it is a clear and simple statement of our values. We are compassionate and empathetic humans providing respectful and skilled support to the people we have been entrusted to provide care to, ensuring their needs are met in a way that fosters their growth, development, and meaningful community inclusion.

Our new logo speaks to what Care means to each of us. It is reminiscent of a tree, suggesting life and growth, being an integral part of the environment, and providing shelter. The circular shape suggests a gentle embrace, and the safe space we provide for Individuals to live and be supported. The upward projection of the arrows represents empowerment, and the success and growth we all aspire to witness in each Individual, and one another. And finally, the base of the logo speaks of the support that ensures a strong foundation for Individuals to flourish in their lives.

We have also taken this opportunity to update our existing Stone Brook brand, which is now better connected to the overall Care identity.

Thank you for being part of ASLS and your continued dedication, as we move into the next 50 years of providing empowered care to Individuals in Alberta.

Our 50th Stories: Building in Grimshaw

Under the name The Peace River and District Association for People with Special Needs, our organization received funding confirmation in January of 1982 for another group home.

Initially, the organization looked to build in Peace River but there was opposition from some members of the community. The Town of Grimshaw contacted our organization asking if they would consider building a home there, in Grimshaw as the community was already in favor of it. The Society agreed and land was purchased.

A fundraising committee was established to raise funds for home furnishings.

The first-of-three fashion shows was held March 9, 1983 and was called “Changes ‘83”.

The event raised over $2,000.

Construction on the home in Grimshaw was complete in April of that year and the Grand Opening was held November 16, 1983. It was attended by the organization board Vice-President Cindy Wagner and Association Executive Director Susan Magee as well as numerous community members.

The second fashion show “Jubilation ‘84’ was held February 28 & 29, 1984 and raised over $3,400.

The third and last fashion show “Alive ‘85” was held May 23 &24, 1985 and was called a success as well.

Our organization now owns numerous homes in Grimshaw as well as the Designated Supportive Living facility Stone Brook which just celebrated its 5th Anniversary this past March.

Our 50th Stories: Achieving Accreditation

Our organization, then called The North Peace Community Living Society completed accreditation in 1995, three years after starting the process.

The achievement was celebrated with an event that saw the organization’s first president and founding member Al “Boomer” Adair return as guest speaker.

The President of the Board of Directors at the time, Roger L.R. Morgan had these words to say:

“The government plans to turn over delivery of many services to the community. This provides an opportunity for innovative agencies to expand their mandate and serve a larger community.

I believe the future of Alberta services will include accreditation. Accreditation is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. It tells consumers that the agency meets high standards and is monitored regularly to ensure consistency between what is said and what is actually done. This provides a high level of comfort to persons accessing services as they are assured of quality service. It also benefits board members, funders, the community at large, as well as professional and direct service staff to know the organization is progressive and meets the required standards.

Quality is not an accident. It requires a great deal of preparation, training and monitoring. Teamwork and open communication are vital to ensure the service is client centred and cost effective.

The staff of the Society are to be commended for bringing the agency to Accreditation standards in less then three years. This is a considerable feat and bodes very well for the future of the society.”

The Society was re-accredited in 1998 for three years and received a plaque from the Office of the Minister of Alberta Family and Social Services in recognition of the accomplishment.

In 2017, our organization received it’s 1-year Accreditation through CARF following an intensive review process. Throughout that year, ASLS continued to improve our processes and systems to align with CARF standards. In 2018, our accreditation was renewed for another 3 years.

Our 50th Stories: Dana Laliberte, former board member

Dana Laliberte was a North Peace Community Living Society board member in the late 1980’s.

Dana lived and grew up in the neighbourhood that included Sunshine House in Peace River. She remembers playing with the youth living at Sunshine House and would babysit some disabled children also living in an area duplex.

For years, Dana was a Special Education Teacher in the Catholic school system, later becoming the Special Education Coordinator and was invited to sit on the NPCLS Board of Directors.

The organization believed in community integration with supports says, Dana. “We fought to get them into the school system. So that was very challenging because the philosophy on the board and a few of us in the school setting was very different than most people. And so, we were really fighting an uphill battle, people really felt they didn’t belong in the school system, they felt they had nothing to offer, nothing to contribute.”

Back in the late ’80s, Dana says Sunshine House was not used as a residence for Individuals but as offices for staff and her main responsibility was sitting on the Personnel Committee.

She says it was challenging as a board member, working with personnel but says she felt like they were making headway.

“If you’re on a board like North Peace Community Living Society, you have to be ahead of the game, always. You are always out front. This board was really out front.”

“It was a really challenging time,” remembers Dana. “Because we were fighting against what most people believed. And people didn’t want a group home next to their house, there was a lot of that.”

“I am grateful for the work that they have done over the years because it hasn’t been easy.”

Dana says the organization was key in promoting the message of inclusion. “They stood by it and breathed it and I am very grateful they were in our community doing that because those young people deserved it, they needed someone advocating for them.”

Our 50th Stories: The Society’s annual Fall Conferences

In the late ’90s, the North Peace Community Living Society held industry-related conferences, much like ACDS does today.

The inaugural conference was October 24-26, 1996 titled Transitions: Partners in Change and approximately 145 were in attendance.

The keynote speaker for this event was Dr. Rick Freeze – The Transition Planning Process. It focused on supporting Individuals after high school graduation as they transitioned into adulthood

The second annual conference was held September 10 & 11 1997, with guest speaker David Hingsburger who spoke about sexuality.

Third annual conference “Another Piece of the Puzzle; Understanding Behaviour”, was held October 22 & 23, 1998. Along with numerous speakers, there was also a self-advocacy panel where Individuals “shared their experience growing up with a developmental disability.”

The 4th annual conference was titled “Inclusion – Breaking the Barriers”. It focused on what Inclusion means from the perspective of Individuals as well as their families.

The 5th and last conference was held on October 19 & 20, 2000.

“Colors of the New Millennium” featured speaker Rob Chubb and his ‘colors’:

– Orange: Courageous

– Green: Conceptual

– Blue: Compassionate

– Gold: Conventional

He was quoted in the Peace Regional Record Gazette as saying” We need all four in our lives. When we use all four in our personal lives, all four in our community, then we have a more effective community.”

The annual conferences came to an end in the early 2000s as another similar conference began in Edmonton.

Our 50th Stories: Skills to Work

In 1994, our organization then called the North Peace Community Living Society, made the decision to purchase businesses and use them as training and employment centres.

Peace Bottle Recycling

Peace Bottle Recycling opened early in the year of 1995. It was a partnership between the North Peace Community Living Society, Recycle Plus, Northern CARE, and the Peace River Recycling Society.

Airport Café

The Airport Café opened on April 8, 1996, and was where Individuals were trained for six weeks working in the hospitality industry.

The program also saw Individuals trained in various community businesses for another six weeks.

It was a joint project between the Society and:

– Alberta Family and Social Services

– Alberta Career Development/Advanced Education

– Town of Peace River

– Northern Alberta Job Corp.

Golfworld on the Peace

The 18-hole miniature golf course opened in the summer of 1996.

The Grand Opening August 1st was attended by the local MLA, Mayor and President of the Board, Faye Boyle.

The approximate cost of the project was $100,000 with funds coming from grants as well as local community groups and businesses.

Completely Puzzled Manufacturing

The puzzle factory was purchased by the Society in January of 1997. The money to buy the business came from the sale of the Bottle Depot.

It was decided the puzzle factory could employ more Individuals then the depot and would be a more suitable training facility.

Our 50th Stories: Vocational training and employment

In 1979, the Work and Adjustment Skills Training program was introduced, and a feasibility study was launched into expanding services to include a Vocational Training Centre. The Federal Government received the proposal in March 1981.

The cafeteria was up and running in February of 1982, opened by the Association in the Provincial Building’s cafeteria.

“The purpose of the Training Centre was to provide instruction and support for individuals with disabilities meet the goal of increasing self-sufficiency and integration into mainstream society.” – excerpt from North Peace Living Society History Book.

The official Grand Opening was held June 11, 1982, and was attended by over 150 people including government representatives.

In 1984, the organization was also involved in the Green Valley Project that saw the Work and Work Adjustment Program clients employed for the summer to restore the Nature Trail along the Heart River in Peace River.

The program was restructured in 1984 and in the summer of ’85, 10 adults with disabilities were employed by the Wilderness Project. The Individuals helped clear trails, install fire pits, build picnic sites as well as bird houses and bridges.

A similar project continued in the summer of ’86.

The Vocational Training Centre closed in February 1988.

Our 50th Stories: Al and Joyce Adair

The first president of our organization was Al ‘Boomer’ Adair, a former minor league baseball player.

Al was elected to the role in 1968, at the first organizational meeting in Peace River.

At that time, Al was CKYL’s Sales Manager and Sports Director. During the initial years, many fundraising events were held including one which Al and Joe Zinselmeyer raised over $1,000 throwing a baseball.

A few years later, he ran for and was elected as the region’s MLA and when the official Grand Opening of Sunshine House was held, Al attended as the elected official.

pictures of Sunshine House Grand Opening courtesy of Rob Adair

His wife Joyce later became the organization’s president.

“Mom and dad were always super involved in the community. Mom was a nurse and dad ran for politics in ’72. I was young, I was five when dad entered politics,” remembers Rob Adair, son of Joyce and Al.

“I specifically remember when they opened Sunshine House in Peace River. We went down for the grand opening of it and I ended up playing, running around the house with all the other kids. It was a big deal for mom and dad to help, be a part of getting Sunshine House in Peace River because it was such a good cause.”

Rob tells ASLS “it meant a lot to them to be a part of the community of Peace River. Dad passed away in 1996 and mom passed away in January (2019) so it is nice to have a lasting legacy that goes on.” He adds “for them it was just being part of the community, and helping, doing what they could to help the society and the community cause these kids are part of the community.”

Our 50th Stories: Sharon Fowler, a founding parent

Sharon Fowler is one of the organization’s founding parents. Her husband Alvin was the first, 1st Vice President and her son Roy received supports at Sunshine House and attended Cosmos School.

She remembers attending the original meeting and Alvin standing up and speaking even though he “wasn’t a public speaker”.

Sharon says “part of the reason why he wanted to start this school was we were told when Roy was about four-months-old was to take him home and raise him like you would a pet dog because they couldn’t learn. And this was from a medical doctor, but that was the attitude (back then).”

There were approximately eight families involved in the beginning says Sharon, and those eight families had children that were not allowed into the school system at that time.

She remembers one of the first fundraising events for the organization taking place the beginning of June 1970. It was an over 14-mile Walk-A-Thon in which approximately 50 people took part.

“After the Walk-A-Thon, they had hot dogs and ice cream and juice at the old Deadwood Hall and the kids ran around and played.”

Sharon says the “organization always got a lot of support from the community; monetary and voluntary.”

Walk-A-Thon, picture courtesy of Sharon Fowler

Another fond memory for Sharon was the Grand Opening of Sunshine House June 17, 1972.

She remembers the most exciting part for the children living in the home was seeing the RCMP members in their Red Serge. “The children were fascinated with the RCMP”.

She also remembers the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta, Grant MacEwan being good with the kids of Sunshine House.

Grand Opening of Sunshine House June 17, 1972

Her son Roy lived in Sunshine House until he was 12 and then moved to Grande Prairie to receive supports.

Our 50th Stories: Did You Know?

From education to inmates, some interesting facts about our organization.

Did you know?

Cosmos School was a portable that had been previously used by the Peace River School Division.

Peace River Record-Gazette, December 15, 1971

In 1976, the Society and the Peace River School Division worked together to develop a curriculum for High School students that needed supports.

The Senior Program was running for the 1977/1978 school year and included the following subjects:

– Agriculture

– Home Economics

– Life Skills

– Recreation

– Woodwork

March 1980 saw a Language Development Program implemented at Springfield Elementary School under the direction of the Association sponsored teacher’s aides.

And in May 1985, the Association and other agencies worked together to establish the Rehabilitation Practitioner Program at the Grande Prairie Regional College.

Inmate connection

The Peace River and District Association for the Mentally Retarded had an ongoing partnership with the Peace River Correctional Institute in the early years.

In the summer of 1976, a summer recreation program was held at Sunshine House. Among the outings the youth went on were to the Correctional Institute In Peace River. In turn, ‘chosen’ inmates would visit the youth in Sunshine House.

Skilled inmates were also hired to make repairs on the house as well as paint the interior and exterior of the building. The inmates also put up a fence and installed playground equipment.