By Staff Writer – Salmon Arm Observer
Published: April 20, 2011 9:00 AM
Updated: April 20, 2011 9:01 AM

Applause: Clients at the Shuswap Association For Community Living congratulate executive-director Jo-Anne Crawford and board vice-chair Liz Foster on the 2011 Community Booster of Excellence Award. Photo by James Murray/Observer

The first four of nine Business Excellence Awards for 2011 were presented Tuesday. They were: 

Sedo International Foods – 2011 Rookie Business of Excellence Award, for outstanding achievement in the first 18 months of operations. Nominator: “Sedo brings a high quality in products and service to Salmon Arm, quality in variety of products made in Salmon Arm. The international taste of sausages is a great asset to Salmon Arm. They also support local charity.” 

Shuswap Association for Community Living – 2011 Community Booster of Excellence, for remarkable contributions to community initiatives by a non-profit community-based organization. Nominator: “The Shuswap Association for Community Living has positively impacted both our business and the lives of the people it supports. Their dedication to their various programs including the “Made to Order” employment program are a great success giving everyone an equal chance for employment and filling the need in the business community.” 

Stewart Fuson, Shuswap Home Repair & Construction – 2011 Business of Excellence Award, for overall business excellence and achievement. Nominator: “I left Stewart Fuson the keys to our tired and worn semi-waterfront house in Eagle Bay. I returned a few weeks later to my perfect dream home by the lake. For once I was speechless. Stewart and his crew had listened to what we wanted and did a flawless job of blending the old with the new to create a home that had warmth and character updated for modern living.” 

Richard Hurtubise of Shu Dogs – 2011 Customer Service of Excellence by an Individual Award, for demonstrated commitment to excellent service by an individual. Nominator: “When someone refers to the hotdog stand at the Ross Street Square, they rarely (if ever) use the business name of Shu Dogs. Everyone knows it as Richard’s place. Richard hands out free Freezies to the kids passing by, offers free samples to those on their coffee breaks and always has time to converse with a senior on the park bench. Not to mention his ability to make you the most decadent gourmet hotdog you’ll ever have.” 

The awards are hosted by the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Salmon Arm.

Shifts in Community Living

bring new opportunities


The Sheltered Workshop concept of day programs is coming to an end in B.C. The wave of mainstreaming that started in the school system and supported child care has progressed to the Adult population. Programs where participants spend their days in segregated settings with other mentally challenged people are being phased out. 


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Work program: Shuswap Association for Community Living client Robert Almas feeds cardboard boxes into the box compressor at De Mille’s Farm Market. By Barb Brouwer – Salmon Arm Observer

For the first time in his 48 years of life, Robert Almas has a paying job.

NewS.29.20101019233749_20101020.jpgAnd it was a completely satisfying experience for the Shuswap Association of Community Living (SACL) client of 13 years and his employer Brad De Mille.

“For all of the kids it’s been a highlight. He’s been a fresh breath of air,” says De Mille, noting he hires young people on a seasonal basis every summer and Almas is the first with intellectual disabilities. “He’s very proud of his job, he just shines when he’s doing it and it’s such an enjoyment to see him.”

Almas looked after all the plants out front of the store, kept the landscaping and driving area swept clean and operated the cardboard crusher.

Describing Almas as quite intelligent, De Mille says he was pleasantly surprised by his ability.

“We need to bring them into society, they’re part of what we do,” he says. “They’re just being shut out because of the perception of their abilities. I think you can find a place for them.”

De Mille says, without a doubt, he will hire an SACL client again.

While he’s never been employed in the community, Almas has worked in SACL’s recycling program and sheltered woodshop.

But the province has closed the purse strings on adequate funding, so the organization has had to look to the greater community for help.

“We still offer recycling services and confidential paper shredding, but our wood shop is only open one day per week now and will be closed once the present inventory is sold,” says SACL executive director Jo-Anne Crawford.

And the greater community has stepped in, with more than 21 local businesses giving paid work to SACL clients.

SACL employment specialist Merrilea Young says the program is of mutual benefit to clients and employers.

“We are promoting a value exchange in that a job seeker’s inclusion in society is championed and an unmet need in the organization (SACL) is being addressed,” she says. “We prescreen and try to match our clients to a job that suits his or her abilities and interests.”

Being employed in the greater community for real pay helps empower, connect and include people with intellectual disabilities.

Employers who hire the clients help to raise awareness and combat stereotypes and prejudice about the rights of persons with disabilities.

“You should have seen him with the first pay cheque he ever got, he was three feet off the ground,” says Young of how a proud Almas was showing his cheque to everyone.

Another client, 43-year-old Brad McDonald, works at Chesters in the Mall at Piccadilly and is well-liked by staff and customers.

“He’s a very hard worker and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wear a uniform more proudly than he does,” Young says. “It’s such a good placement, he’s so happy there and they’re so happy with him. It’s a really good fit.”

Young says people with disabilities represent a large pool of motivated, talented people who will remain an under-utilized labour source if businesses don’t step up to the plate.

She says clients are carefully matched with employers’ need and have proven to meet or exceed job performance of employees without disabilities.

Echoing De Mille’s comments, Young says co-workers often report a more positive work environment when a person with a disability is on the team.

As well, each client is given as much support as needed in order to perform their jobs.

“They’re not scary, they’re generally very personable,” says Young, noting that employers need not worry about behaviour issues. “They have their challenges, but with all the hopes and dreams you have.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about SACL’s Employment Services is invited to call 250-804-2332. For more information, call 250-832-3885 Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(Salmon Arm, BC) — (October 1st, 2010) —“ Due to a generous $2500 grant from the Shuswap Community Foundation – the Mary Douhaniuk Memorial Fund and the foundation’s General Fund – we were able to purchase 3 new laptop computers and 2 office chairs,” said Jo-Anne Crawford Executive Director of the Shuswap Association for Community Living. “We simply do not get enough funding from Community Living BC (CLBC) to keep up with technology, yet we are expected to. These purchases assist us in meeting the reporting requirements of CLBC and our Accreditation status. ’”


Due to CLBC Service Restructuring and budget cuts, the Association has gone through a number of changes in the last few years. “We still offer Recycling Services and Confidential Paper Shredding, but our Wood Shop is only open one day per week now and will be closed once the present inventory is sold. CLBC has not been placing any new individuals in our ‘Sheltered Workshop’ programs for a few years now. Anyone receiving new services is on individualized funding and can access employment services. The Employment Service assists and supports employers who hire individuals with developmental disabilities to do ‘real work for real pay’ – a job whereby they earn at least the minimum wage. 

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Employment Services can call 250.804.2332, or to get more information please call 250.832.3885 Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.