Having had the honour of being Chair of the Board of Directors for the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland for a few years now, when it comes time to make some comments for this Annual Report, I quickly go to my notes and our meeting minutes, check my memories of noteworthy developments, check the information gathered through our beneficiaries surveys which are completed this time of year (i.e. agency staff, external stakeholders and most importantly the people we serve)….and find myself wanting to say the same things I said last year!
I feel so privileged to be a part of an organization that provides effective and positively recognized services, and find myself often reflecting on how committed our staff are at continuously keeping caring and effectiveness at the core of all that they do. From a Board perspective we want to play our role to maintain this most satisfactory performance, not for us, but for the vulnerable people we serve, ensuring, to quote our newly updated Vision: A safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.
I recently read something that resonated on this point. In a word, it’s discipline: a relentless culture of discipline that is the hallmark of people who think, plan and act in a focused way…and who never give up on trying to be better for the people we serve. At the request of management and staff we reviewed our Strategic Plan this past year to update it: to bring it closer in line with all aspects of our services, but also to make it easier to chart outcomes and progress for our annual and long term plans. As part of this process we also refreshed our Vision, Mission, and Core Values. It is no accident that one of the (five) core values in our revised statements is: Determined. We are passionate, do not shy away from tough challenges, and respond to setbacks with a renewed drive to succeed. This is a business where longevity for our clients is critical, and determination is a huge part of ensuring consistent and sustainable support for the individuals we serve. As I said last year, it’s not a short term engagement.
Our 2017-18 year continued to emphasize deliberate growth to respond to requests for service, along with a series of upgrades to ensure that key financial, administrative and physical infrastructure planning and implementation would be set in place for the continuing health, efficiency and effectiveness of the agency. This ranged from new software, to procedures and staff for our payroll and human resource systems, to the development of a long term facilities renewal and expansion plan. This year the Board struck a standing Real Estate Committee of Board and staff members, with broad responsibilities to analyze and to inform major financial facility choices: decisions such as whether to purchase, build new, renovate, rent or lease, or other contractual options which will allow us to best meet our staff and client needs. Our Fraser Street building opened in June 2017, and it has proven to be everything that the agency needed to serve and grow – but frankly we also learned some lessons along the way about best practices on major decisions.
Just a line more about Fraser. I am happy to report that it has become the hub that we hoped and planned for: a focus for community services, drop-in support, program delivery, efficient staff working spaces and another node in our continuum of housing service options. There is more detail about our new Fraser Street office in the annual report. Do also drop in any time to take a walk around and see our new space in action!
Our annual operating revenue in 2017-18 was $10,086,027. We served 3460 persons throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, with upwards of 151 staff and 42 dedicated volunteers and practicum students. We now have 111 housing units through ownership of 9 buildings, and additional leases and contracts. A huge area of service increase this year was through our Community Living BC Home Share program, which increased over 75 % – we are now serving 76 persons with 55 terrific home share providers. Correctional Services Canada has requested we find additional residential beds, and as mentioned that has guided some of our facilities planning this year.
Looking towards 2018-19, we are excited to implement the new Community Case Management Supervision (CCMS) program through contract with the John Howard Society of Canada, part of a Canada wide alternative to detention framework from the Canada Border Services Agency. We are also developing our Acquiring Community-Based Employment Skills (ACES) program, in collaboration with BC Corrections, the John Howard Society of BC and regional John Howard Society affiliates across the province. We are working with the Correctional Service of Canada to develop additional housing focused on supporting indigenous individuals. I look forward to reporting more on these exciting new initiatives next year!
We are continuing to provide management and administrative services to the John Howard Society of BC, and expanding our collaboration with John Howard societies across the province and throughout Canada on provincial and national initiatives such as our new ACES and CCMS programs. It is with excitement that we work with our John Howard colleagues!
On behalf of the Board, we continue to look to the future with optimism. We do believe we have the continued confidence of our existing and new funders, and of the individuals we serve. I’ve commented already on our staff: always our greatest single asset in every aspect of what the agency does, and who give life to our Mission: We strengthen our communities by supporting people experiencing barriers so they can achieve greater independence.
We thank our staff from the front to the back of the agency for their heart and their commitment. Special thanks are due our tireless CEO and the management staff who always forge forward with new ideas and energy! I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work of the Board, and a special thanks to Tyler Dean and Ryan Nash who have contributed greatly to this Board and now have gone on to exciting employment and other opportunities.
As always, please do read this Annual Report. The pages are replete with wonderful stories and information about this agency.
Tim Stiles, Chair