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          April 2021 

MeaningfulLife features stories of accomplishments people have achieved and the Personal Outcome Measures related to these achievements.  Personal Outcome Measures are the foundation of everything Empower Simcoe does to support people.

Due to a record number of Covid-19 patients in Ontario’s intensive care units and highest-ever rate of new cases in schools, the Government of Ontario has announced the province will be moving into the “Shutdown” zone effective Saturday April 3, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. The Shutdown zone consists of widescale measures and restrictions, including closures, to halt or interrupt transmission of Covid-19.

All Empower Simcoe programs and departments will continue to operate in the current capacity with virtual supports, work and meetings, where possible. We have not yet received notification from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services regarding updates to family visiting practices. As Empower Simcoe receives further information we will communicate changes as appropriate.

For current information regarding each region and the level of public health measures please access the Covid-19 public health measures and advice website.   

We cannot stress enough the importance of everyone adhering to all current local public health unit requirements and Empower Simcoe health and safety measures for Covid-19 to reduce the risk of spreading infection. Shutdown Zone measures include:

• It is illegal to gather indoors with anyone you do not live with;
• You should only go out for necessitates, such as, work, school, groceries/supplies, helping vulnerable people, exercise and physical activity;
• You must stay at least two metres apart from everyone else and wear a mask;
• Indoor gatherings are not allowed, except with members of your household (or one other household if you live alone).

Find the latest developments on Empower Simcoe closures, cancelled events, and resources for children and caregivers here.

Thank You Sue Fildey
Retirement is a day we all think about and plan for years its inevitable arrival. Friday, Feb 26, 2021, was that day for Empower Simcoe Community Support Worker Sue Fildey.  After 33 years in her chosen profession, Sue decided to take a much-deserved early retirement.
In 1988, Sue began her career with the Barrie and District Association for People with Special Needs after supporting a gentleman with a developmental disability learn his new job at the factory where Sue worked. She greatly enjoyed her time with this gentleman, but knew factory life was not for her.  As a single parent, Sue wanted to build a better life for her and her daughter. Her new career began in our agency’s Accommodations program.  While working part-time, Sue attended Georgian College in Orillia full-time to earn her Developmental Services Worker diploma.
In 1993, Sue accepted a contract position in Adult Day Services, now known as Community Support Services, accepting a full-time position in 1995.  During her exceptional career, Sue’s colleagues and the people she supported could always count on her to be there when needed, even if just for a chat, a smile, or a joke.
 “It’s the people we support I’ll miss the most,” said Sue.  “I’m very grateful for everything they taught me and the wonderful memories I’ll take into this next chapter of my life.”  Sue, and husband Barry now plan to spend as much time as possible with family, including their two granddaughters at their cabin in the woods.  Sue and Barry also have big plans to build a new outhouse and a chicken coop for the chickens they plan to get. She also intends to create a new vegetable garden to keep herself active.
Congratulations Sue!  We’ll miss your laugh and your devotion to the people you supported over the years.  Enjoy every moment of your well-deserved retirement and know you’ll be missed by everyone at Empower Simcoe.

(Pictured above: Sue on her retirement day at Empower Simcoe's Community Support Services; Easter egg family time with granddaughter Annalise)
Outcome - People realize personal goals
Something's Cooking with Anika
Virtual supports through the Empower Simcoe Transition Support Services program recently offered Anika Power the opportunity to assist with instruction to make Hot Crab Dip.  This yummy dish was something Anika really wanted to learn to prepare for herself.  Anika prepped all ingredients and was led through each step of putting the recipe together.  As you can see the results were mouth-watering, not to mention delicious.  Congratulations Anika, and thank you for sharing this recipe with us in this edition of Meaningful Life.  

  • 2 packages (6 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 white mushrooms, minced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (6 ounce) can crabmeat
  • extra cheddar cheese (for topping)
  • Can be served with Nacho chips, toasted pita bread
  • In a small pan, saute onion and garlic.
  • Next saute bell pepper, then mushrooms.
  • Let cool.
  • In a bowl soften cream cheese with a spoon.
  • Add cooled vegetables, crab meat, and cheese.
  • Store in container in fridge until ready to serve.
  • SERVING INSTRUCTIONS: Place dip in an oven proof shallow bowl.
  • Spread dip evenly in bowl and top with more shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Bake in oven at 350 degrees – 30 mins or so, until slightly bubbling and the top is starting to turn golden brown.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and green onions - Anika’s flare
  • Serve with your choice of chip/cracker
  • Dip away!
Outcome - People realize personal goals
Congratulating To Our Housing Access Workers

In March 2020, Empower Simcoe's Housing Access Workers ceased all in-person appointments and transitioned to virtual or phone meetings. As most of the people supported in our Housing Support Services program have next to no access to phones or even the internet, this proved challenging. As well, many of the local shelters moved operations to local motels and hotels to keep people safe. Housing Access Workers needed to get creative to find ways to support people to find housing. Working with local shelter providers, Housing Access Workers set up video conferencing to connect with individuals. A virtual Housing Help Workshop was created and continues to run weekly for those who can access the internet. 

In September, Housing Access Workers started providing direct support within these County shelters;


David Busby Centre

Elizabeth Fry

Youth Haven

Salvation Army - Men's and families

Barrie Women's and Children's Centre


The Lighthouse

North Simcoe

The Guesthouse

South Georgian Bay

Out of the Cold Collingwood

For most of the pandemic, these shelters are supporting over 200 people on any given night. Each day, Housing Access Workers are meeting with participants and creating housing plans.

With Simcoe County's low vacancy rates and exorbitant average monthly rent (average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in the Barrie area was $1,393 in 2020, according to statistics), this dedicated team continues to work hard to secure housing for people in need. From April 1, 2020, to March 1, 2021, Housing Access Workers supported over 180 people to obtain permanent housing.  An amazing accomplishment! 

Please join us in congratulating Empower Simcoe's Housing Access Workers for their commitment and dedication to those who need it most in our community.  Pictured above:

Top row l-r - Lynn Duncan, Kylee Labrosse, April McKenzie
Middle row - Erica Bleta, Michelle McIlravey, Luke Allen
Bottom row - Meg Blaney, Taylor Doss, and Donna Kivell

Outcome - People experience continuity and security
Grow Your Garden and Contribute to the Empower Simcoe Foundation 
As you get your garden and lawn in tip-top shape with Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery this spring and summer, remember you can help grow the Empower Simcoe Foundation too.  From April 15th to October 15th, 2021, simply tell the cashier before your purchases are totaled that you support Empower Simcoe.  Five percent of your sales will go towards the Empower Simcoe Foundation to help people of all abilities lead a meaningful and inclusive life.

This fundraising initiative with the Empower Simcoe Foundation is available at both Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery locations: 4346 Highway 90, Springwater, and 3817 County Road 4, Bradford.
Expressing Our Gratitude
March was Gratitude Month at Empower Simcoe.  A chance for all Empower Simcoe employees to reflect and be thankful for the impact they're having on the lives of the people and families they support each and every day.  Thank you to our valued and essential employees, some of whom shared what they're grateful for at Empower Simcoe.  Clockwise top left: Accommodations Support Workers Kayla Hall, Lisa Springall, Abiola Anibuali, Sandy Stevenson and EarlyON Child and Family Centre Program Facilitator Kim Marion.  
The Road to Accreditation 2021
Since 2007, Empower Simcoe is proud to be accredited with the Council on Quality and Leadership, an organization dedicated to the definition, measurement, and improvement of personal quality of life.  Reaccreditation with CQL for Empower Simcoe’s fourth term is coming up on May 18th to May 21st.  Stayed tuned as we share more information and ways to be involved in this venture and the recognition of all the excellent supports and services provided by Empower Simcoe. 

According to CQL, "Empower Simcoe is to be commended on the progress made in moving forward with its long term goals and for efforts to maintain the Basic Assurances® and continuing to enhance the use of the Personal Outcome Measures® for planning for people and for the organization."

It is the dedicated, hard work of all Empower Simcoe stakeholders that has assisted our organization in achieving accreditation with The Council on Quality and Leadership over the last fourteen years! 
A Sweet Easter Treat for Empower Simcoe
This Easter was extra sweet for Empower Simcoe as evidenced by the smiles from Selina and Cassie above! Thanks to Megan Leigh, co-owner of Chelsea Chocolates for her generosity in ensuring these delicious chocolate treats were waiting for everyone we support, as well as our dedicated Direct Support professionals at our our Empower Simcoe supported living homes. Thank you Chelsea Chocolates!
Register for the 2021
Empower Simcoe Golf Tournament
Registration will be open soon for the 25th Annual Empower Simcoe Golf Tournament on Thursday June 24th at The Braestone Club, just south of Orillia.  Join us for this fun day of golf as we raise funds for Empower Simcoe programs.

Please note, Empower Simcoe will be working closely with Braestone to ensure physical distancing and Covid-19 safety protocols are in place for golfers.  Some of the changes to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests include:

•Scheduled tee times for foursomes, every 10 minutes from 9:50 a.m. to 1 p.m.
•Two people per cart; recommended that they are in the same “bubble”
•Masks to be worn whenever physical distancing is not possible
•No congregating indoors
•Lunch served as a takeaway at the 9th hole
•An online Silent Auction

We’ve reduced this year’s tournament registration to $160 per golfer or $640 per foursome. The fee includes golf cart rental, green fees for 18 holes, lunch, and a goodie bag for every golfer.  Help us kick the pandemic blues with a fun day that looks ahead to a bright future for people of all abilities! 

Thank you to presenting sponsor, RBC Wealth Management, for their continuing support.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available here.  
Welcome Home Penny

Penny has been receiving support from Empower Simcoe's Regional Housing Support Services for almost three years, however she's well on her way to personal sustainability. Empower Simcoe's Housing First Program recently received this update from Penny.

"I just wanted you to know how awesome it felt to pay my own rent today. I was surprised at how alive I felt, and I found such a feeling of normalcy. It was crazy. Thank you!"

We couldn't be more thrilled for you Penny.

Learn more about our Empower Simcoe Housing First program and its goal of ending chronic homelessness in Simcoe County here.

Outcome - People realize personal goals and People are safe
Subscribe to MeaningfulLife and stay up to date with everything that's happening at Empower Simcoe.  Inspirational stories of accomplishment, what we're working on as an agency and upcoming events are just a click away.  

Is your child starting Kindergarten in September? The Empower Simcoe EarlyON Child and Family Center, along with partners from across the county are excited to be offering free programs that help prepare children and their families for Kindergarten! Pre-register here for a session that fits your schedule best!

Have a comment, question or story idea? Contact: call (705) 726-9082 ext. 5280, or email
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