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          June 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.
Reaccredited for Four More Years!

On May 21st, Empower Simcoe CEO Claudine Cousins announced that Empower Simcoe has been awarded the four-year Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation from CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. This reaccreditation for four years confirms that the organization embraces person-centered solutions to improve the quality of life for people receiving supports and services.

“In the midst of the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19, Empower Simcoe was able to quickly pivot to provide services in innovative ways, while keeping the people it supports, and its employees safe,” says Empower Simcoe Board President Deborah Wall-Armstrong.  “Empower Simcoe is truly an inspiration to other organizations. This award recognizes that commitment and leadership to continual improvement for the benefit of those we serve.”

When Empower Simcoe partnered with CQL to pursue accreditation, it undertook a rigorous process to review and improve supports and services. The efforts of Empower Simcoe were focused on empowering the people who receive supports to pursue what really matters in their lives, and achieve their personally-defined outcomes.

“Empower Simcoe is truly an elite organization that embodies the very best in human services,” states Mary Kay Rizzolo, CQL President and CEO. “They have deeply-rooted person-centered philosophies that carry out into their actual practices. It’s having a demonstrable impact on people’s lives.”

See the excitement of Empower Simcoe's Accreditation announcement here.

Foursomes Still Available
Foursomes are still available for the 25th Annual Empower Simcoe Golf Tournament on Thursday June 24th at The Braestone Club, just south of Orillia.  Register here 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.  
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.  
Big Steps for Lucas
Lucas, who lives at one of our Empower Simcoe supported living homes, has been attending virtual learning with his school since March of 2020.  Our Empower Simcoe Accommodations Support team has supported Lucas each day to spend time in his stander while participating in learning activities.  Just a few weeks ago, Lucas started pulling himself to stand against furniture - a huge celebration for Lucas and his family.  Now, Lucas is spending time in his walker going for short walks.  Recently, Lucas stopped by Empower Simcoe for a stroll around our parking lot to show us his remarkable progress.  Congratulations Lucas!  
Outcome - People realize personal goals
The Bright Colours of Shawn and Streets Alive 

This year's Streets Alive Orillia theme honours the 60 year legacy of the Mariposa Folk Festival.  For Shawn Ladouceur and our Community Support Services, Orillia artists, Empower Simcoe's Streets Alive Hippie Van sculpture is the grooviest yet!  All twenty-eight sculptures, including Empower Simcoe's, can be viewed in downtown Orillia starting this month and will remain there until Thanksgiving.  As usual, members of the public will be able to vote for their favourite pieces.

Above, Shawn is painting people and pets on plastic glass using bright colours to reflect a hip 60’s vibe!  A prolific and gifted artist already, Shawn has been eager to learn more painting techniques like matching colours and mixing skin tones with the assistance of Empower Simcoe Community Support Worker Heather Hauck.  Shawn has also participated in many virtual art classes through Zoom and wants to learn more artistic techniques from wood burning to oils to further develop his skills. His ultimate goal is to make art his career and be identified as a renowned artist in our community.  This Empower Simcoe artist is already on his way to making his dreams come true.

You'll find more information here about Streets Alive 2021 and where in Orillia our Empower Simcoe Community Supports Services Hippie Van submission will be located.  And yes, Shawn reminds you to vote for Empower Simcoe.

Outcome - People choose personal goals; People participate in the life of the community
For the Love of Music
Chris Michalchuk loves music and has an amazing appreciation for all genres from rock to country. This spring, Chris decided to make his own music by building his own ukulele. First, Chris put on his headphones and listened to his iPod until his inner artist emerged with an idea.  Chris then carefully chose his colours, and with Johnny Cash as his inspiration, the style of his ukulele started to take shape.  This was a project that had many steps and took a number of days to come together.  "It felt like it took months to make," said Chris.  A guitar purchase soon followed and now Chris is taking online music lessons with the support of Empower Simcoe Accommodations Support Worker Craig Wheeler. 

Listening to music and learning to play new instruments has brought so much joy to Chris.  No doubt this will be one rockin' summer!  
Outcome - People realize personal goals
Moving Respite Forward
Empower Simcoe's Respite Coordinator Carolyn Harris will be one of the co-presenters at this month's virtual International Short Break Association (ISBA) Respite Conference from June 22nd - 25th.   The ISBA is a worldwide initiative made up of agencies and organizations providing health care and respite services for families concerned with disabilities.
This International Conference is intended for everyone who provides, uses, or needs respite/short break services.  It is also for policy makers and program administrators who want to understand or better support the respite/short break needs of family caregivers, and individuals who receive respite care across all ages.
The theme for the conference "Moving Respite Forward" is inspired by Wisconsin’s motto “Forward” which reflects the State’s continuous drive to be a national leader.  This conference will provide a space to advance knowledge and understanding of respite by learning from and with international leaders in the field of respite.  The conference will also challenge attendees to utilize evidence-based practices and discover innovative strategies to improve respite care to meet the growing needs of the 43 million U.S. family caregivers and millions of more caregivers around the world. 

Register for the ISBA Conference here.  Together, we are Moving Respite Forward!  
Her Fight is Our Fight

Our heartfelt thanks to Megan Gillingham.  The Simcoe County Infant and Child Development Program at Empower Simcoe is grateful to share her family's story below.  See more of Layne's Story here,  and how you can support Team Layne Hydrocephalus.   

June is not only Hydrocephalus Month in Canada, but it also marks the first birthday of our twin girls, Layne and Baylor. Layne was born with congenital hydrocephalus. At our 20-week ultrasound, we were told that the ventricles in Layne’s brain had an accumulation of cerebral spinal fluid (csf). The prognosis was severe. Her brain did not have a chance to develop properly. If Layne survived she would not see, hear, walk or talk. No quality of life. We were offered to terminate the pregnancy. Without hesitation we turned down the offer and became determined to fight for the lives of both our babies. We left that appointment confused, overwhelmed and broken. We had heard of “water on the brain” but knew nothing about it, or how it could affect an unborn child, their development, or their future. We tried to stay positive and found a community of other families who’s lives had been altered by hydrocephalus. We held on to hope. 

 The twins were born at 36 weeks and 5 days. Both strong and singing to the world. Layne’s MRI after birth showed the ventricles were very enlarged, leaving little brain matter left. Her prognosis was grim. Surprising everyone Layne passed her eye test, and then her hearing test. She gained her strength and was able to come home after 17 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Layne’s perseverance shined and she continued to surprise everyone including her medical team. Shortly after she was home we noticed signs of pressure that would inevitably require a shunt. With support from family, friends and the Simcoe County Infant and Child Development Program with Empower Simcoe, we were able to get Layne the help she needed, the shunt that saved her life. She underwent her first brain surgery at Sick Kids on July 30th, 2020, just shy of 2 months old. At that time, we were told her future was unknown. We did everything we could to help Layne overcome any obstacles. She went to a physiotherapist who was very impressed with her development, and who envisioned Layne’s future as bright. As time went on, Layne continued to defy the odds set against her! Learning to roll, sit up, crawl, stand and WALK! She has such a strong personality and is showing us, we have much to learn about hydrocephalus. 

Hydrocephalus Canada is a non-profit, organization located in Toronto. Founded in 1973, the association empowers those impacted by hydrocephalus and spina bifida to experience their best life. They provide continued support, connecting families in the community. This organization will be an integral part of Layne’s future. 

Outcome - People are connected to natural support networks; People choose services; People choose personal goals
Empower Simcoe Rolls Up its Sleeves 
The health and well-being of the people and families we support is Empower Simcoe's number one priority.  Pictured l-r: Gary, Craig, Bill, Jen, Lenny and Bob are proud to roll up their sleeves for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Empower Simcoe continues to work with our health care partners across Simcoe County to ensure every Covid-19 vaccination is another step closer to visits with loved ones, coffee with friends, and dinner with family at your favourite restaurant.

And, our thanks to Empower Simcoe Community Support Worker Amy Readman for this video update on the latest Empower Simcoe employees who've rolled up their sleeves.  Stay safe Empower Simcoe!
Outcome - People have the best possible health
Meaningful Life Reader Poll

Your opinion matters.  Help us make your Empower Simcoe Meaningful Life newsletter even better so that we can share our news, events and stories of people even better!

What kind of content do you want to see in upcoming Meaningful Life issues?  Please take just a few moments to answer these brief newsletter survey questions.

Survey questions can be accessed until the end of June.  We welcome your input and look forwarding to sharing the survey results soon!

Indigenous Peoples Day Virtual Celebration

June is National Indigenous History Month.  Register here for a collaborative Simcoe County EarlyON program with Empower Simcoe EarlyON Indigenous Coordinator, Angelia Brooks, as we honour and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day through traditional story-telling.

Location: Zoom!

Maximum Number of Registrants: 20

Time of Course: 11:00 AM

Date of Course: Monday June 28th, 2021

For: Children ages 0-6, Parents and Caregivers

Questions? Contact us as 

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