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          February 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.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Empower Simcoe continues to place the health and safety of the people we support and our employees as our highest priority.

Find the latest developments on Empower Simcoe closures, cancelled events, and resources for children and caregivers here.
Open Up Your Heart
Please join us in congratulating Empower Simcoe artist Emily Healey.  Her painting "Open Up Your Heart" graces the cover of this year's Empower Simcoe thank you card. According to Emily, this painting represents caring and love for all. “I love using my imagination in a way that allows me to express myself,” says Emily. “It’s an amazing feeling to have my art recognized this way.” Thank you again Emily, for sharing your gift and helping us empower people to lead a meaningful and inclusive life.

We also thank Creative Cafe Barrie for sponsoring our Empower Simcoe Art Contest. As our featured artist for 2021, Emily receives a family membership compliments of Creative Cafe.  We're grateful to this valued community partner for their ongoing support and for bringing out the artist in all of us.
Outcome - People realize goals
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
at Empower Simcoe
The Board of Directors at Empower Simcoe is happy to announce the launch of its new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council (EDIAC), comprised of employees, community stakeholders and the people and families supported by Empower Simcoe.  
“The Board of Directors of Empower Simcoe is pleased to see the creation and implementation of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council in support of our efforts to look at how we can expand our capacity to serve in more positive ways,” says Empower Simcoe President Deborah Wall-Armstrong.
EDIAC was identified as a priority goal in Empower Simcoe’s Strategic Plan: Building the Capacity to Serve, to provide advice, comments and recommendations on issues affecting diversity at Empower Simcoe and to facilitate opportunities to educate and celebrate the different aspects of diverse cultures and traditions through outreach activities within the community. 
The Empower Simcoe Board of Directors and the agency’s Senior Leadership team are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive culture where every employee feels valued and respected.
Outcome - People are respected
Dreaming Big to His Own Beat
Jimmy Saengone has been dropping a beat almost all of his life.  Supported by the Empower Simcoe Family Home Program, Jimmy originally began taking music therapy to help with some speech challenges.  By the age of 12, he was writing his own songs.  Strong friendships made through his musical community in high school further galvanized Jimmy’s passion for creating music.  Inspired by artists like Drake and Eminem, he learned how to rap by spending countless hours researching and emulating his hip hop heroes.

Read the full story and listen to Jimmy's music here.
Outcome - People realize personal goals
The Road to Accreditation 2021
Empower Simcoe is excited to announce the next date for Reaccreditation is May 18th – May 21st, 2021.  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 since 2007! 
Milestones Goes the Extra Mile

There's not much that Daniel Bertrand doesn't love about his job as a Prep-cook and Hobart at Milestones in Barrie. Supported by Empower Simcoe's Employment Support Services Program, Daniel is always eager to learn and embrace new work responsibilities. He enjoys the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen at the height of lunch and dinner hour. He also takes great pride in knowing countless customers have enjoyed yet another delicious Milestones meal hot off the grill. However, what brings Daniel the most satisfaction at work is being a part of a committed and caring team and the sense of camaraderie that takes place every day on the job. For Daniel's Milestones' colleagues, the feeling is mutual.   

"At Milestones, we have a work family, and Daniel is an important part of it. It's been a tough year for everyone, but when I heard Daniel couldn't go home to see his family over the holidays due to COVID-19 restrictions, I knew we had to do something," says Milestones General Manager Sandra Wadsworth.

That "something" came in the form of Milestones' elves delivering gifts, Christmas stockings, and treats for not only Daniel but also for his housemates at his supported living home. Included in the gift hampers were board games to ensure everyone could play and enjoy each other's company over the holidays. And to top it off, a delicious meal with dessert was prepared by Milestones staff for Daniel, his housemates, and support staff. Yes, every Milestones employee contributed to a Christmas that Daniel will never forget.

Thank you to Sandra Wadsworth and her Milestones team; District Manager Chris Lovelace, Alexis, Ethan, Quinn, Ashley, Dave, Ryan, Billy, and James. We're grateful to this exceptional community partner and inclusive employer and their collaboration with the Empower Simcoe Employment Support Services Program for almost ten years.  

This is meaningful employment from a team that cares. 

(Pictured above: Daniel, and the Milestones' elves l-r: Alexis Desroaches, Ashley Spadafora, General Manager Sandra Wadsworth, Ethan Carter, and Quinn Wadsworth)

Read more about Empower Simcoe's Employment Support Services Program here.

Outcome - People choose where they work
Campaign to Make HRC Monument Accessible

A fundraising campaign is underway to enhance accessibility around the survivors’ monument at the Huronia Regional Centre (HRC) Cemetery.

Remember Every Name, a group that works to share the stories of former residents of the shuttered institution on Memorial Avenue, has launched a GoFundMe campaign after Orillia City Council turned down its request for $25,000.

Read the full story here.

Join the Community Champions Club

Sometimes, people supported by Empower Simcoe need an extra helping hand. The Empower Simcoe Foundation exists to raise funds that help pay for the many needs government funding doesn’t cover, everything from wheelchairs to dental care to respite for caregivers. The Foundation’s donors help make sure those needs are covered. And donors who want to make the greatest difference of all join the Community Champions Club and give a set amount every month.
By joining our Community Champions Club you help make life more meaningful and inclusive for many individuals and families on an ongoing basis. It’s easy, convenient, and it makes a difference all year long!
Your monthly gift, whatever the amount, will make a big impact. It means the funds will always be available when Martha needs a new walker, a family needs emergency respite care, or Mike needs to set up his apartment for supported independent living.
Becoming a Community Champion is easy. Just fill in our secure Monthly Donor Form and enter your account information to have your donation of any amount withdrawn from your bank account or credit card automatically every month. You can also contact us at to set up an alternate payment plan. The Empower Simcoe Foundation is a registered charity and you'll receive an official tax receipt for your donations.
When you join the Champions Club and donate $10 a month or more, not only will you have peace of mind knowing that you’re making a difference every month, as a special thank-you gift, the Empower Simcoe Foundation will send you an exclusive set of art cards by talented young Barrie artist Raymund Gabriel Concon (pictured above).  Raymund Gabriel was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was four years old and has been an active participant in Empower Simcoe’s Youth Programs and other activities.  Visit his website at
If you have any questions about the Empower Simcoe Foundation’s Monthly Giving Program, please give us a call at 705-726-9082 ext. 2285.

People with Developmental Disabilities
left out of Vaccination Planning

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution and prioritization plans roll out across Canada, people with developmental disabilities, their families, support workers and community agencies have been asking: What does this mean for us?

Despite international evidence that COVID-19 presents greater risks for people with developmental disabilities, as a country we have been fairly silent about this throughout the pandemic. Vaccination prioritization efforts from other countries such as the U.K., the U.S., Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands
include adults with developmental disabilities in early phases of their vaccination rollout. Although we have mandated collecting and reporting information on other vulnerable groups in Canada, we have not done so for people with developmental disabilities or disabilities more generally. Does it then come as any surprise that they are not yet mentioned in our vaccination policies?

Read this full Healthy Debate story here.

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.  
A Good Reason for Hat Head!

It's been a great winter to stay warm with the Empower Simcoe toque!  Thumbs up from our models; Stacey, Chris, Perry, Jodie, Michael, Christina, Chuck, and Empower Simcoe Community Support Workers Lisa, Joyce and Meaghan.  Stay cozy everyone!

Have a comment, question or story idea? Contact: call (705) 726-9082 ext. 5280, or email
EarlyON Lullaby and Goodnight
Children and their grownups are invited to Empower Simcoe's EarlyON Child and Family Centre for our live virtual Bedtime Storytime on Zoom.
Join EarlyON Program Facilitators, Carol & Judy, Tuesday evenings in February for bedtime songs, stories and rhymes. Feel free to get comfy in your pj’s!
Maximum Number of Registrants: 20
Location: Zoom – link will be emailed with confirmation email
Time of Course: 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. (E.T.)
Dates: February 2, 9, 16 and 23
For: Parents, Caregivers and Children 0 – 6 years old
Register here.
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