UNITI’s Gala of Diamond Wishes took place on November 3rd, 2018 to raise funds for inclusive community services. What a success it was! The gala raised $70,000 to go toward a non-restricted fund that has already contributed to directly enhance the lives of people living with a disability and advocate for inclusiveness locally and nationally.
UNITI is the partnership of three non-profit affiliates that have existed for decades: Semiahmoo House Society, which offers quality services to people with disabilities and their families; Peninsula Estates Housing Society, which provides affordable and inclusive housing that reflects the diversity of our community; and The Semiahmoo Foundation, which assures that UNITI has the recognition, relationships and resources to support an inclusive community.
Of the three partners, Semiahmoo House Society has been in business the longest. For 60 years, it has been a trailblazer in the community living movement, making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities and their families in Surrey and White Rock. With the collaboration of its affiliates, the Society has consistently delivered its services through a person-centred approach by anticipating needs, inviting input and realizing dreams.
One of the most recent achievements of the UNITI partnership is the construction of the Chorus apartment building, located at 2358 153rd Street in Surrey. The Chorus concept was born out of the dreams of people who receive support from Semiahmoo House Society. About a decade and half ago, people told board members and senior staff that they wanted to live independently in an apartment with support as needed. The leadership team listened and embarked on the complex process of developing rental housing. After many years of planning, leveraging the resources of all three societies and creating external partnerships, Chorus became a reality, not only for people with developmental disabilities, but also for diverse members of the community who were in need of affordable and inclusive housing.
Chorus is the microcosm of UNITI’s vision of an inclusive community. The building, which features 71 units, is home to people of diverse backgrounds, including 22 people with developmental disabilities who live in apartments throughout the building. Residents of Chorus organize many social activities in the common room, where everyone is welcome to share potluck holiday dinners and celebrate birthdays.
While developing Chorus was challenging for the UNITI partners, it was a worthwhile achievement that stretched their capabilities to a different level and renewed their confidence that they could overcome any challenges in their service to the community. In fact, UNITI is now planning the redevelopment of an older housing complex located at 20th Avenue and 152nd Street in Surrey, which is owned by one of its partners, Peninsula Estates Housing Society. What the new development will look like is uncertain at this point, but one thing is for sure, it will be affordable and inclusive.
UNITI’s annual galas aim at raising proceeds to foster an inclusive community where its diverse members can expect to live a good life, in harmony with each other. Stay tuned for more bling next year as we plan our Gala of Bollywood Dreams where you will be able to enjoy a fun evening, while making a real impact in the lives of many people. Together, we are stronger!
By Louise Tremblay, Director of Development at UNITI