Published By
Susan Bisaillon
Chief Executive Officer, The Safehaven Project for Community Living

As I sit and reflect on the past year, I realize this moment is not reflective of the year anyone had: really, who has had time to just sit? And who has had the emotional bandwidth to reflect? Alas.

We’ve made it through a year of stress, precaution, and exhaustion, but it certainly has not passed without joy, relief, and an immense amount of gratitude. 

I want to start by acknowledging the struggles that each of us experienced in our professional and personal lives and the added layer of complexity surrounding families and organizations that provide care and support to vulnerable populations. COVID-19 has tested the entire Safehaven community, and unsurprisingly, you have carried yourselves incredibly. I am eminently proud of and grateful for this team who has navigated 2020’s inevitable outcomes, keeping all clients healthy, full of smiles and intact heading into a new year. 

Because of you, clients are reaching new heights, showcasing the resilience and character they bring to our communities, and providing light and life in each of their environments. Because of you, your coworkers have learned and embraced new skills, and they continue to protect their health and wellness and that of those around them. Because of you, we were able to package up success stories from within closed walls and share them with our community and celebrate the little victories together. Because of you, joyous accounts have given people a beacon of hope in an otherwise challenging year. 

While COVID-19 had a significant impact on our programming, some cool events transpired at Safehaven throughout the year that deserve to be celebrated. 

Client Celebrations

2020 played host to some significant milestones at Safehaven. We gathered for countless virtual celebrations: a first and fortieth birthday, graduations, new beginnings, and continuing education, and all the everyday celebrations in between. We watched in awe as one of our clients received their make-a-wish gaming computer (and assembled it themselves, too!). And I can say with certainty that through these events, our clients were the source of a joy that radiated through our locations.

Let’s get DIGITAL

Through technology, we’ve increased our capacity for human interaction in ways we never thought possible — finding and encouraging avenues for self-care, connecting in ways we never thought we would be, and ensuring that we weren’t compromising on that connectivity, even though the ways we’re interacting are quite different this year. 

Expanding Partnerships and Supporting the Sector

In an unprecedented year, why not lean into the opportunity to forge new partnerships to better protect vulnerable clients and community members? If there was ever a time for Safehaven to branch out, it is now. 

Our knowledge and expertise in infection prevention and control (IPAC) has been tested, and I am exceptionally proud of the Mobile Team created by Safehaven that has supported vulnerable individuals and staff in the community. Our IPAC efforts have supported clients and staff in the Toronto Developmental Service Alliance, Violence Against Women sector and Ontario Association of Independent Living Service Providers. Our efforts have supported educating over 6000 employees, complete mask-fit and swabbing testing, and vaccinating hundreds of clients and employees against the flu virus. This work in partnership with many agencies is an incredible example of this team’s adaptability and resilience.

These are a few examples of the resilience and character that our community commits to every day – incredible. Thank you.

Even though I’m signing off with my traditional thank you for everything, in a year like 2020, it truly means more than it ever has. Sincerely, thank you. I wish you a safe and happy holiday.