Category Archives: Our Stories

Our Stories: Jane Weber

This is Jane’s story, a CSW in Grimshaw.

I’ve been with ASLS for just over a year. I’ve worked with individuals with varying degrees of challenges for most of my life. I remember at 6-years-old helping my mother (she had a brain injury before I was born).

I have 2 children and 7 grandchildren. My husband, Dan, and I enjoy spending time with our family whenever we can. We also enjoy camping and will sometimes camp and go to work from the trailer!

In my spare time, I do many crafts. I sew, quilt, knit, crochet, weave and do needlepoint. I just finished making a queen-sized quilt for my husband and a king-sized quilt for my daughter.

I also donate chemo caps to those who lose their hair to cancer. So far, I’ve made and donated 400 chemo caps (or chemo hats) to hospitals in Alberta, Ontario and some in the USA.

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

Our Stories: Zainab Ashiq

This is Zainab Ashiq’s story, our Administrative/Clinical Support Assistant in Grimshaw

Zainab has been with us for just three months and was hired on as a CSW and applied “because a lot of people had said ASLS is an amazing organization to work for.”

Why do you stay?

“I love my job. I’m working my hardest in hopes to get hired again next summer.”

Why did you want to take on the challenge?

“I thought it would fit well with my degree choice. I wanted the work experience.”

What is one of your fondest memories so far?

“Sharing an office with Laura. She taught me so much.”

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

“To take deep breaths and stay calm. I love to self-care by taking a bath (lush bath bombs are my favourite) and spending time with my family.”

What are you most surprised about working here?

“How easy everyone is to get along with and how hardworking this team is.”

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

“That they’ve built something incredibly special.”

How has ASLS impacted your personal life?

“I’ve learnt to appreciate a lot more and be more open with myself and others.”

Quick facts about Zainab:

– She has two older brothers and no pets, yet!

– She loves to shop online and spends a lot of time at the gym

– She would eventually like to work at an accounting firm somewhere in the city

– She is surprisingly good at jumping hurdles for how short she is

– She would love to have lunch with Michelle Obama and it wouldn’t matter where. “She’s one of my biggest inspirations and I would love to sit & chat with her.”

Any message you would like to share?

“I would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been so welcoming and kind since I’ve started here.”

Our Stories: Amanda Werny

This is Amanda’s story, our Residential Administrative Coordinator

Amanda has been with ASLS since September 2018 and was hired on as the Food Program Coordinator.

She grew up in Red Earth Creek before moving to Slave Lake in 2006 and settling in Grande Prairie in the summer of 2015. Amanda has a sister and is a dog mom to Daisey.

Why did you take on this challenge?

“I took on this challenge because I have a passion for helping people with disabilities and improving their quality of life.”

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

“When I have a stressful day, I remind myself it is just a bad day, not a bad life and the reason we are all here. I self -care by going hiking with my dog.”

What are you most surprised about working here?

“I am most surprised at how everyone in the office is like a little family and always willing to help each other out.”

How has the company changed/evolved since you started?

“Since I have been here my role has evolved from the food program and administrative to now Residential Administrative Coordinator (PCP, over-seeing food program, assisting the Program Manager and other tasks for the organization).”

What do you do in your spare time?

“In my spare time, I enjoy spending time in the mountains with my dog. I love to cook and try new recipes.”

What do most people not know about you that you would like them to know?

“Most people don’t know I was Corporal Werny in Army Cadets in Slave Lake.”

What message would you like to share?

“My message would be, no matter how difficult things can be, always find a way to smile and laugh.”

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

Our Stories: Julie Babbitt-Byrne

This is Julie’s story, our Program Manager- North

Julie has been with ASLS for six years this August. She began her career as a CSW and has been both a Supervisor and recently a Team Lead in Peace River. She is originally from Zimbabwe and I loves the heat. YAY SUMMER!

Julie has 2 sons and 2 dogs and more cats than she would like to admit.

What position were you hired for?

“I was hired as a working supervisor for Bluesky residence. I have worked as a PCAP Mentor, a Working Supervisor, a Team Lead and just recently as a Program Manager. For some reason, I am drawn to the behavioural homes.”

Why do you stay?

“I stay because I truly believe I am making a positive difference in the lives of people in my own community. I love connecting with people and there are LOTS of people at ASLS.”

What is one of your fondest memories so far?

“I have had the opportunity to make great memories with all of the clients I have worked with directly and equally as many great memories with the staff members I have worked with. Even when complex behavioural clients have rough days I feel like I have a connection to them and that we have made it through 100% percent of the tough days together. One of my favourite memories is having an impromptu dance party on the beach while some clients were fishing.”

How has the company changed/evolved since you started?

“I have been working at ASLS since ‘B.S.’ – before ShareVision. We used to have to document everything on paper and had binders everywhere. (I loved the label maker). ShareVision has been a huge change and it makes my job overseeing multiple houses MUCH easier. I also saw the building of Stonebrook in Grimshaw which was totally cool.”

How do you de-stress and self-care?

“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.”

What is your hidden talent that can be shared with the public?

“My mom taught me how to juggle silk scarves. Only three at a time. Nothing too crazy.”

Our Stories: Krista Winsor

This is Krista Winsor’s story, our Golfworld Coordinator and an ILS & CSW Team Member in Peace River

Krista has been with the organization for 14 and a half years and was hired on as a Community Support Worker in our Wilcox Residence and was the Wilcox Residential Coordinator for over 13 years.

Krista is originally from Eastern Canada, born in Labrador and has lived in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and finally Alberta where she lives on a hobby farm. Also, on the farm are five cats, five working dogs (a full dog sled team) as well as chickens and rabbits.

Before joining our team, Krista assisted an Individual diagnosed with FASD and severe behaviours in BC and after moving to Grimshaw in 2005, worked at a women’s shelter.

What is one of your fondest memories at ASLS? “I think one of my fondest memories is at Easter Seals Camp Horizon. Most of the individuals I care for are physically disabled. They cannot experience the things in life that you or I can experience. For example, you or I can go on hikes, we can go for bike rides, we can do obstacle courses, or we can even go rafting. People with physical disabilities have huge barriers and cannot experience these things at all. Well at this camp, the individuals I care for are able to do a high ropes course, they can ride a bike, they can even go river rafting! To see the smiles and the excitement on their face makes the job worth every day!”

What are you most surprised about working here? “I think it is the versatility and drive that our individuals have. The joy that they have in every single situation, it puts a smile on my face every day.”

How has the company changed since you started? “There have been so many changes. The company has become huge! When I first started there was the ILS program, the 49th residence, Wilcox residence and Peace River residence. Now there are so many homes! It’s exciting to see the changes and growth.”

Quick facts about Krista:

– If she could get paid to travel, she would!

– If she could have lunch with anyone, alive or dead she would choose Mary, Queen of Scots.

– She has an ear for music, she can play many instruments, including, baritone, flute, all the Irish whistles, Saxophone, some piano and bass guitar. She can also sing, after many years of voice lessons. She can pick up almost any instrument and learn it.

What do most people not know about you that you would like them to know? “When I was 19 years old, I went on a trip to Africa, a place in Zimbabwe called Tshlenemba, it was a mission trip. While there we did some pretty amazing things. We helped rebuild the maternity ward, Tuberculosis ward and the AIDS ward in the local hospital. We went to 7 different schools and made lunch for all the children. We taught the women to cook and to sew and the men to do some mechanics. We built some houses for some orphans and hired people to care for them. We worked very closely with the children while there. Watching the way that they live. It was a life-changing, amazing and very heart-breaking experience. It was a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget, and if the opportunity came up, to work in an orphanage, I’d be there in a heartbeat!”

Krista and friend Cassidy Taylor

Kiefer’s Story: Reflections

This week we are turning our focus to one of our Individuals in Peace River and the official unveiling of his painting Reflections.

18-year-old Kiefer has discovered a new talent and is starting his journey as an artist. He says he was inspired by a fellow churchgoer “and how she looks at things and her paintings.”

Kiefer has been painting for a few months and is very proud of his first creation he has called Reflections, saying “It looks amazing!”

Kiefer shares that he will be taking lessons in the future, to further refine his talent. When asked if he knows what he will paint next, Kiefer says he will “wait until I have the proper teacher to teach me to further my painting skills.”

He wants to share his artwork with the community and looks forward to creating more pieces to be displayed in our Peace River and Grande Prairie offices and maybe some other locations in his community.

Thank-you Kiefer for sharing your story with us!

Reflections by Kiefer

Our Stories: Lydia Levers

This is Lydia Levers’ story, our DSL Manager at Stone Brook in Grimshaw.

Lydia has been with ASLS for five years and was hired on as a Licensed Practical Nurse, moving from British Columbia to take on the opportunity.

Originally from Jamaica, Lydia moved to Kelowna at the age of 19 in 2008 and studied in Vancouver to obtain her LPN Diploma.

Why did you want to take on the challenge? “I started at Stone Brook as an LPN. I was temporarily the LPN Team Lead for a couple of months until someone was hired into the role. The employee ended up leaving and I was offered the position on a more permanent basis. One of my fondest memories is of Rilla asking me in person to take on that role. It meant a lot to me that the Director of Programs at the time thought I could take on that role having only been with the company for less than 1 year. That truly sparked within myself, the realization that I have the potential to do more. I left for maternity leave in May 2016 and when I decided I was ready to return to work, I was offered a Manager position. I feel that was a natural progression of my growth within ASLS and am honoured to hold the position. Many days are challenging, the ups and downs of working in human services can be daunting but being able to provide a safe and comfortable environment to our vulnerable individuals makes it worth it.”

How has ASLS impacted your personal life? “I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an environment where I’ve felt so supported. It says a lot about an organization when many of the supervisory staff were first hired into a frontline position. The organization believes in its employees and sets them up for success. It’s evident and something to be applauded.”

Lydia is mom to daughter Jade-Lynn, is engaged to Mathew Strachan and is currently completing an online Site Manager Certificate program through Red Deer College and ASCHA.

What do most people not know about you that you would like them to know? “I am very approachable. Do not be scared or intimidated by me. My sense of humor can be very dry and sarcastic so it may take some getting used to. Also, I am an introvert so if I am not overly talkative in your company, it has nothing to do with you.”

Anything you would like to add? “I’d like to recognize the excellent team we currently have at Stone Brook. I feel our team is the strongest it’s been in sometime and I am happy to see the dedication towards our residents and ensuring quality services are being provided.”

Our Stories: Glory Przekop

This is Glory Przekop’s story, our Marketing Coordinator

I started with ASLS this past November, going from journalist to marketing coordinator. I decided to make the change because I wanted to combine both my careers in life.

Previous to working in newsrooms/radio stations across the province including here in Grande Prairie (Q99), I worked as a Rehabilitation Practitioner in Edmonton. I am an IBI/ABA trained therapist and have worked with autistic children in their homes as well as in their schools as a TA. I also have experience working with at-risk youth.

In my personal life, I am a wife, mother of two and a volunteer, sitting on the Saskatoon Lake Ag. Society board. In my younger years, I did a wee bit of travelling and spent some time living and working in the UK with my sister.

I am thrilled to be embarking on this new adventure with ASLS and discovering all the lives impacted by this organization that has been around for 50 years. In the future, you will hear and see more about that milestone as I gather stories and share them with all of you.

Quick facts about Glory:

– I am fluent in sarcasm

– I am a Calgary Flames fan

– I heart coffee

– I grew up on a farm, the oldest of 4 and now live on an acreage in the County of Grande Prairie

– My kids think I talk too much