Pictou-Advocate-opinion

Community support enables Summer Street to facilitate opportunities for clients

Opinion

To the Editor:

Summer Street is a person-centered organization and it is reflected in everything we do. Our spectrum of services takes into account personal interests and varying degrees of ability and independence. Although programs range from personal care and health to social skills and employment, there is considerable interconnection. On any given day, a client might voluntarily take part in a life enhancement day program, learn new skills through skill development programs, volunteer in the community and later work as an employee in one of the organization’s social enterprises. Summer Street currently provides programs and services to 180 people.

Through Summer Street’s anti-poverty strategy, participants receive an honorarium when voluntarily participating in programs and are paid at least minimum wage when employed by the organization. Of the 70 people who are employed by the organization, over 40 live with disability.

As new skills are developed, levels of independence, desires and opportunities can change, and new doors open. Summer Street’s goal is to provide choices that help each client achieve a meaningful work life balance of their choosing.

Summer Street has a vision of a Community of Champions whereby everyone who is involved with the organization in any capacity champions a belief in the abilities of all.

Summer Street has a mission to create and facilitate opportunities for people with intellectual disability, one person at a time.

Summer Street offers a spectrum of services encompassing life enhancement programs, skill development programs, and employment. The organization partners with people with intellectual disability, those closest to them and the community to create opportunity and improve quality of life.

Summer Street clients actively participate in board driven “blue sky thinking” events and customer and donor appreciation events. Clients report directly to board on organizational performance through an annual score card prepared by the Summer Street Client Council, a democratically chosen group of individuals who represent all clients receiving services. The board and management team make strategic operational decisions based upon their report.

The people of Pictou County support Summer Street as a charity of choice, by employing clients within their businesses, and by purchasing goods and services through its social enterprises. We are always exploring new collaborations and partnerships to further our mission.

All programs and services offered through Summer Street are designed for people who have intellectual disabilities who may, in some cases, also have additional disabilities such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability and mental health challenges.

Our clients are fully engaged in the hiring process of new staff. Imagine, the end user directly hiring staff. By doing so, we have changed our culture from a “quality care giver” to an “innovative enabler”.

Everything we have done and plan to do is based upon our client’s interests. The Summer Street Foundation Annual Golf Scramble has raised millions of dollars for infrastructure and programs.

Because of the ongoing support from the people of Pictou County, we are creating change and facilitating opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, one person at a time.

Rae Gunn, President

Summer Street Society