Tim Stiles, Chair
Every year, as I think about the Chair’s message on behalf of the Board for the annual report, I reflect upon how proud I am of our engaged staff team, and the ways in which they approach their work with “can do” attitudes. When Board members attend our semi-annual All Staff meetings, we are struck by the inspiring energy, enthusiasm, positivity, and responsibility that floods the room. It is thanks to our amazing volunteers, staff, and leadership that we can celebrate the growth of the organization, and the creative ways in which we have been able to bridge the gaps this year and provide the best supports and services to the people and communities we serve.
As the Board looks back on the 2018-19 year, we continue to be struck by the needs we see in our communities throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. We continually seek new and innovate ways to bridge the gaps, and I am pleased to report that this year we have continued to grow and introduce additional services to meet the needs of the people we serve. Over the last five years, our operational budget has increased year after year from $5M in 2013-14 to almost $18M in our coming 2019-20 year. Our building assets are now valued over $17 million, and our staff team has increased to over 220. We served 20% more people this year than last, and we were thankful to have the opportunity to establish five new programs which serve the needs of our communities.
One program we are particularly grateful to have introduced this year is Miyáq’elhá:wetawt, our new Indigenous-focused Community-Based Residential Facility. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Sto:lo Nation, Elder Mary Fayant, and many others to bring this healing program to the Abbotsford community.
This year we also made it a priority to refresh our existing Community-Based Residential Facilities, to embark upon building modifications to optimize the number of beds available for people transitioning to the community from the criminal justice system. We opened a new office in Surrey to support our expanding team in the region, and our Abbotsford Community Services Office was moved into new and expanded facilities in order to provide additional program space.
The agency’s organizational structure changed this past year, as we restructured to balance responsibilities and ensure sustainability into the future. We developed our program teams, and invested in our support functions – finance, human resources, property management, and communications – to ensure that we have the capacity to continue to support current and emerging demands. We have introduced new software and technologies that allow us to increase efficiencies, which will assist us in ensuring that we can sustainably continue to deliver top quality programs and services.
This year, the Board realized that our work could no longer be efficiently handled without changes to our own work flow – specifically, with more Board and committee members. We have reviewed how we can continue to be a “can do” Board, and have implemented an expanded committee structure which has allowed us to focus our efforts and ensure we’re supporting the staff team in doing the great work that they do.
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the Board for the hard work done over many years, not just this past year. Pat Alexander (Vice Chair), Jayce Allen (Vice Chair), Dan Muzzin (Treasurer), Pamela Smith-Gander (Secretary), Carrie McCulley, Morten Bisgaard, and our newest Board member Galib Bhayani. Darryl Shackelly and Prevail regretfully left us late last year due to pressing workloads in their “day jobs”, and we appreciate the time and expertise that they brought to the Board during their terms with us. This is a group of John Howard advocates, second to none.
A final note in reflection – our CEO, acting as Executive Officer, has been integral to the re-energizing of our provincial group, the John Howard Society of BC. With increased collaboration and engagement between the seven John Howard regions across the province, we have grown stronger together and been successful in securing innovative province-wide service delivery contracts such as our ACES employment program. This is major progress in support of clients and communities across British Columbia, and we are proud to be part of such a strong, experienced, and collaborative group who are all working to build safe, healthy, and inclusive communities across BC.
Looking forward, housing will continue to be a critical component. In a forum which included persons served, direct services staff, managers, and Board input, the single most powerful message was this – housing first, but with “wrap around” services to match resident’s specific challenges. This coming year we will be engaging in a broad consultation and refreshment of our 5-year Strategic Plan, which will undoubtedly include housing as a main component of our work ahead.
As I consider how the Board can continue to support success into the future, I am confident that the agency’s attitude and work ethic, in synchronization with its core values – inclusive, accountable, person centered, collaborative, and determined – are its key insurances against risk that the future always brings for the people we serve, and for the organization. The job of any senior leadership in an organization, particularly and necessarily the CEO, is to correctly envisage the future – to thoughtfully consider needs, opportunities, and risks – and plan in preparation to ensure sustainability and continuous development. We are most appreciative of our CEO and leadership team, and the work that they do to bring our strategic plan to life.
Most importantly, we are thankful for inspiring team members that make up the John Howard Society, who dedicate themselves to providing the very best services to the people we serve, and to the pursuit of our vision of a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.
Please take some time to review this annual report. We are trying to provide information bites and snapshots of key information, for easier access. But don’t lose the wonderful stories and testimonials contained in the report. These are at the heart of what we do.
Tim Stiles, Chair