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It was an evening of celebration at Catulpa Community Support Services’ latest Annual General Meeting. Based on the theme of accomplishment, families, staff, and guests joined together in recognition of a year of achievement for many at the event.

Personal Accomplishment

As Karen Hirstwood, Catulpa’s Executive Director told the audience, “I firmly believe that one of our agency’s primary roles is to celebrate personal accomplishment. There are all kinds of accomplishments represented here tonight, because what we are each most proud of is likely a different thing for every one of us. I for one, am always amazed at what each of us can accomplish, either on our own, or with a little support.”

Accomplishments of several of the people and families at the event were noted in the 2018-19 Annual General Report, and each person was recognized and thanked for sharing their proudest moments with Catulpa as the evening progressed.

Guest speaker and artist Raymund Gabriel Concon was a highlight of the evening as he spoke about his art and how he began his journey as an artist. After he spoke, he presented each person quoted in the 2018-19 Annual General Report with some of his artwork.

“I was diagnosed with Autism when I was 4 years old. Communication was a major difficulty. I started drawing stick people at age five. My parents would give me lots of papers and crayons and normally, I draw the same figure over and over. One day, I brought home tons of artwork, one of which was my interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. My parents were so surprised and amazed and from that day on, they supported my artistic endeavour.”

And although they didn’t “win” the Barrie Dragon Boat event, the Catulpa Conquestidor Dragon Boat team “won” in enthusiasm. Team members were presented with certificates in congratulations of the 17th year of participation in the Dragon Boat Festival.

Agency Accomplishment

Catulpa Community Support Services also celebrated the achievement of many of its Strategic Plan 2016-18 goals, as well as  the first phase of planning for the next Strategic Plan.

Karen announced, “We launched a Quality Assurance Program in 2018-19 and we have our first Quality Assurance Goal Statistics Report in the 2018-19 AGM Report. Results from our 2018 Survey of Persons Served, and from an internal Climate Survey are helping us form the basis of our new goals and plans, hopefully leading us to new accomplishments…and next year’s event.

One of our main goals for the upcoming year will be to support self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is an important first step to achieving personal accomplishment. If you are not able to speak up for yourself, you often can’t achieve your goals. We plan to more fully support the self-advocacy skills of people and families within our programs and services. We are going to identify opportunities for self-advocacy development, not only within our agency, but within the community at large. In turn, this will strengthen service planning, goal development, and provide all of us the opportunity for more accomplishment. I am really looking forward to seeing what we will accomplish together in the next year.”

Award Presentations

Kathryn Reid, a Catulpa employee, was presented the 2019 Board of Directors Award in honour of “her overwhelming desire to help, and her capacity for learning that has allowed her to excel in all of the many roles she has taken on throughout her 30 years at Catulpa.” For the past few years, Katherine has been the driving force for increasing FASD knowledge and resources in the region.

Kellie Casey, a Supervised Alternative Learning teacher with the Simcoe County District School Board, was honoured as the winner of the 2019 Community Partnership Award. “Kellie is always willing to provide education support outside of the regular classroom setting and so often connects her students to programming within the CAPC/CPNP programs. She understands that the needs of her students extend beyond the classroom to ongoing community supports, preventative resources and beneficial friendships.”

Five Catulpa employees were provided Maikke Post Bursary Awards during the AGM. The Maikke Post Bursary Award is dedicated to continuing staff development through the pursuit of ongoing education. Nancy Hastings, Lesley Watts, Vanessa Porter, Barb McIlmoyle and Natasha Rykaszewski each received a bursary award.

Catulpa chooses two award winners for the Margaret Gallow Spirit Award each year. One is a community member, the other a Catulpa employee. Margaret Gallow was the agency’s former Executive Director and was instrumental in launching the process of what Catulpa is today. She embraced the organizational values and beliefs as her own, and encouraged all those she touched to live by them too. The awards honour those who carry on the legacy of Margaret Gallow’s vision.

Stephen McClelland, a principal of special education was presented the Margaret Gallow Community Spirit Award this year. “Stephen has worked closely within several programs at Catulpa Community Support Services. He is very supportive, ensuring students are provided the flexible academic supports they require for success. He has been an instrumental part of moving the FASD Diagnostic Clinic forward by addressing the gap and finding a way to fill it.”

Greg Coassin was chosen by his peers as the winner of the Margaret Gallow Spirit Award for Employees.  An IT employee, Greg “embodies exactly what Margaret had in mind for employees at Catulpa; hard-working, empathetic and kind, wrapped in an ability to have fun.This person treats everyone with respect.”

If you would like to learn more about Raymund Gabriel Concon’s artwork, please visit pureartimpressions.com

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