Take Action for Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month!

Graphic with text calling for you to take action to reinforce the importance of accessibility and inclusion.

Will you join us to reinforce to the federal government the importance of accessibility and inclusion?

Recently, in partnership with Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, CIJA brought a delegation of Jewish federations, service agencies, and community volunteers to Parliament Hill for the first ever lobby day on disabilities and inclusion. Reena is proud to have been a member of the delegation for this historic event!

The group, comprised of representatives from Vancouver, Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, raised a number of important issues with elected officials from the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic Parties. Reena was involved in the planning of the event, and was present at Parliament to advocate on behalf of the individuals we serve through our employment and housing programs, and to lend our support to others in the community.

As February’s Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month comes to a close, the federal government’s consultation on national disabilities legislation is also nearing its conclusion.

We need your help to reinforce the importance of accessibility and inclusion with the Minister responsible for disabilities.

ACT NOW: Send an email to Carla Qualtrough, Minister for Sport and Persons with Disabilities.

Reena Foundation Receives $180K Gift!

On February 22nd, 2017, Reena Foundation received an incredibly generous gift of $180,000 from the Robbins Family. As a lifetime Leaf’s fan, Monty Robbins has brought 60 Carlton St. and 11 Stanley Cups back to life in his basement. Monty dreamed about the day when he would meet his sports hero, Darryl Sittler. Reveling in the dream that one day, his favourite player would make it to Maple Leaf Gardens and sign his wall. Monty’s wish had come true. Darryl graciously joined Reena Foundation for the cheque presentation and autographed the wall in Monty’s basement, dedicated to him. Darryl reminisced about his time as a Toronto Maple Leaf, the crowd was in awe. The original pledge for the donation was $90,000. The Robbins Family was so touched by the experience that they doubled the gift. A portion of the gift will be directed towards the purchase of a wheelchair accessible van. The Family will direct the balance towards another important initiative.

Leafs Fan Donates to Reena Foundation

13,000 Adults with Developmental Disabilities Receiving Support

Ontario Newsroom Bulletin | Ministry of Community and Social Services | February 14, 2017

Ontario will eliminate the 2014 Passport waitlist by the end of next month -- one year ahead of schedule -- providing direct funding for 13,000 adults with developmental disabilities.

Passport is a government program that provides direct funding to adults with developmental disabilities so they can take part in community programs, develop work and daily life skills, hire a support worker and live independently.

When the Passport program was first launched in 2006 it served 1,700 people. Passport now supports more than 19,000 people with developmental disabilities and will continue to grow, supporting an estimated 24,000 recipients by 2017-18.

As the number of eligible people for Passport funding continues to grow, addressing the waitlist is critical to ensuring that people with developmental disabilities across the province receive the supports they need as soon as possible.

Supporting adults with developmental disabilities is part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

To learn more click here.

Program Closure Notice

Due to the weather Reena's Toby & Henry Battle Developmental Centre Day Programs, Older Adults Program and Workshop at The Schwartz Reisman Centre will be closed tomorrow February 7, 2017.

Pathways and Channels, North and South, will remain open for Fee for Service individuals only. Please note Reena's Toby & Henry Battle Developmental Centre will have limited staff available for individuals who live with their families and need to attend programs. Training's remain open.

6th Annual Striking For Reena

Striking For Reena 2017 Join us for Striking For Reena Presented by Westdale Properties

If having a blast while raising funds for a great cause is right up your alley... please join us on May 7, 2017 at World Bowl!

The venue has 40 lanes and bowlers of all ages and skills are welcome. There is no entry fee, but each team (up to 6 bowlers per team) is asked to raise a minimum of $300 per bowler for a total of $1,800 per lane.

Striking for Reena is overwhelmingly popular because it’s so inclusive. Families, friends and supporters bowl alongside individuals supported by Reena. With family fun at the heart of the event, there’s truly something for everyone:

  • Silent Auction
  • Kids Zone
  • Raffle
  • Food
  • Prizes

  • Click here to register, donate or sponsor!
    Have a question? Click here to contact Shira Lev.
    View photos from last years event by clicking here.

    Agency Compliance 2017

    The Ministry conducts compliance inspections of all Ministry-funded service agencies under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 (SIPDDA). The specific standards of care and safety requirements that agencies are required to comply with are set out in Ontario Regulation 299/10 Quality Assurance Measures (QAM) and/or in policy directives.

    The primary purpose of an inspection is to assess service agency compliance with legislation and policy directives, and seek to ensure that service agencies are fully aware of their responsibilities.

    A compliance inspection of Reena took place from January 9, 2017 - January 19, 2017. We are pleased to share that Reena was found to be IN COMPLIANCE with Ontario Regulation 299/10 of SIPDDA (Quality Assurance Measures) and/or policy directives applicable to MCSS-funded services and supports for adults with developmental disabilities.

    Click here to see Reena's Compliance Inspection Letter.

    Employment Advice Column: Career advice for your kids


    Employment Advice Column Artwork created by an individual supported by Reena.

    Dear Joanna,

    I am a working parent of a 16-year-old high school student who is struggling to figure out a meaningful career path. He has pressure to start choosing his courses for next year, which will be his last year of high school. He has expressed an interest in going to university. My son has asked me for a career direction and to help him decide what he wants to be when he grows up. I have no clue as to how to help him. Do you have any career advice for him?

    Signed: My kid’s future


    Dear Future,

    Research shows that early career awareness and work experience for youth are indicators of possible employment (http://respectabilityusa.com/2015/05/wioa-implementation-employment-first-planning-tool/). Many high schools and post-secondary institutions offer these educational opportunities to their students. However, according to JVS Toronto’s career counselor and facilitator, Dorota Hejnrych, more often than not,  these students turn to their parents for career advice. For many parents this is an overwhelming task because they do not know the current labour market as well as future predictions and what is required for their child to make informed decisions. Choosing a suitable career path involves understanding one’s strengths, interests (job related and hobbies), motivating factors, labour market trends, lots of encouragement, an open mind and a simple action plan, advises Hejnrych. She adds that that a suitable career and future employment opportunities are critical for an individual’s personal growth, confidence and self-esteem. 

    Hejnrych works with many parents in her practice and offers the following five strategies to help with their children’s career development, especially if these types of workshops are not offered in the school.

    1. Career exposure. Help your children learn about as many careers as possible. Bring them to your workplace for a day. Encourage your children to talk to as many people as possible in your network, as well as in their network such as the teachers, school staff, and don’t forget their friends’ parents and their network. Help them find out what different people in your family or different professionals in your life do for a living. For example, have your child arrange an information interview with your family doctor, your dentist, your banker, and your lawyer, local  politicians, police officers,  to name a few. They could experience the real working world through a volunteer experience, especially if they need community hours for school. Part-time work is also important to learn about the working world and to start building a professional network with co-workers and managers.

    2. Identify talents. Again, through part-time work while in school, participating in extra-curricular activities, joining clubs, school teams, and/or volunteering, are important opportunities for your child to start to understand and learn about who they are and what are their talents, passions, skills and strengths as well as values that can translate into a career path with your guidance.

    3. Course and program selection. High school is a great place for your child to explore, learn and investigate different career paths. By encouraging your child to take different courses during or after school, you can keep his or her options opened as much as possible. Encourage your child to engage in broadening experiences by engaging in new hobbies and learning new soft skills (for example, problem-solving) and technical skills in addition to gaining as much knowledge and information as possible. In today’s reality, it is not simply enough to study what one finds interesting. Hejnrych recommends to students to choose a diploma/degree in the area that best fits their interests, and strengths that can be eventually be turned into a paycheck!

    4. Support self-sufficiency. Hejnrych recommends assisting young adults in facilitating information interviews. Don’t do it for them!  Letting your child do as much as possible on their own facilitates another important transferrable and soft skill in the working world! Once they learn the art of researching and asking key questions, they will be far more equipped in their careers and job search.

    5. Be flexible. It’s not always about finding that perfect career path or a job, concludes Hejnrych. It’s about looking for the optimal fit for the current labour market. For some, it might be a full-time job, Monday to Friday; for others, it might be two part-time positions in order to make a full-time living. Encourage your child to look for career paths that are suitable now and support your kids to be lifelong learners. What works now, will not necessarily work later! Prepare them for a career plan and job skills that are transferrable, adaptable, and flexible. Also, focus on those  soft skills training such as working in a team, being organized and multi-tasking so they will be ready to work in the labour market that they will be facing one day when they are adults looking for work.

    To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Reena’s Employment Resource Specialist, Joanna Samuels, at jsamuels@reena.org

    Joanna Samuels, M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP  is the Employment Resource Specialist at Reena with an expertise in  job development, job coaching, and workshop facilitation with people with disabilities and multi-barriers as well as staff training. Also, Joanna helps employers with diversity recruitment and selection, is a published author, advice columnist, and guest speaker; as well as a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator.

    Celebrating Ontario’s 150th Anniversary with Better Community Spaces

    Ontario Newsroom BulletinMinistry of Tourism, Culture and Sport | January 31, 2017

    Ontario is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a province by improving and renovating over 200 sports facilities, parks, seniors centres, and other community spaces, bringing positive change to communities and families across the province.

    Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, made the announcement today at Gilda's Club Simcoe Muskoka in Barrie, an organization that provides free social and emotional support for people feeling the impact of cancer. Gilda's Club Simcoe Muskoka is receiving $24,000 through the Ontario150 Community Capital Program to make vital infrastructure improvements that will a make a difference in the lives of 2,000 people who benefit from the organization's important services.

    The Ontario150 Community Capital Program will help not-for-profit organizations, municipalities and Indigenous communities renovate, repair and retrofit existing community and cultural infrastructure. This support will be used to increase accessibility, improve safety and maximize community use of public spaces.

    In celebration of Ontario's 150th anniversary, the province has also released a new recording of A Place to Stand (Ontario Song), the province's unofficial anthem. The 50-year-old song has been refreshed to instil a sense of pride and belonging for all.  

    Investing in local communities for Ontario's 150th anniversary is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

    Quick Facts
    • Ontario is investing $25 million in the Ontario150 Community Capital Program to support 203 capital projects.
    • In total, these investments are expected to result in almost 1.4 million square feet of renovated community space and more than 36,000 hours of additional availability for physical activity and arts programming.
    • Ontario is recognizing the historical significance of 2017 with Ontario150, a year-long commemoration that will honour Ontario's past, showcase the present and inspire future generations.
    • The Ontario150 Community Capital Program is one of three community-based Ontario150 grant programs that will promote community engagement, empower young people and contribute to economic growth.
    • The Ontario150 Community Capital Program is administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario and one of Canada’s largest granting foundations.
    • The Ontario Trillium Foundation uses research to guide decision-making and relies on community-based volunteers across Ontario to review applications and guide granting decisions.

    We are extremely grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for selecting Reena as a grant recipient. This grant will enable us to make vital improvements to our flagship location, the Toby & Henry Battle Developmental Centre. 

    To learn more click here.

    Solving the Affordable Housing Crisis

    Reena, with several other partner agencies, plans to build housing projects modeled after the successful work at the Reena Community Residence. The goal of the project is to ensure that the right services reach the right individual at the right time.

    According to the Provincial Network on Developmental Disabilities 120,000 Ontarians have a developmental disability. Waiting lists for residential supports have risen to 12,000 people in a sector that currently provides residential support to 16,000 people.

    As waitlists continue to rise Reena is working to develop a long-term residential solution that offers accessible, fair and sustainable supports. This solution will redirect some of the most vulnerable in our community out of basements, hospitals, prisons and long-term care facilities back into our communities.

    Each partner involved in the project will serve local needs as defined by local disabilities service partners, such as March of Dimes Canada and the Local Health Integration Network, and will involve an expanded planning process with local municipal leadership, relevant agencies and self-advocates. In each case, Reena will provide the core design and service plan with the lead agencies and work to define additional needs that can be accommodated within the facility.

    Together we plan to build a safe, supportive and meaningful place for individuals with developmental disabilities to live, work and play.

    To learn more click here or watch the Developmental Services Housing Forum below.

    MyCommunityHub Is Coming To Reena!

    Join us on March 29 from 6:30 - 8:30PM at the Toby & Henry Battle Developmental Centre to learn more about how Reena is using MyCommunityHub!

    MyCommunityHub is the place to go for great activities offered by Developmental Service Agencies across Ontario. You can browse, register and pay in a few simple clicks.

    Please let us know if you will be joining us by clicking here. Deadline to register is March 5, 2017.

    To learn more click here
    To visit MyCommunityHub click here

    Program Closure Notice

    Due to the weather Reena's Toby & Henry Battle Developmental Centre Day Programs, Older Adults Program and Workshop at The Schwartz Reisman Centre will be closed today January 17, 2017.

    Pathways and Channels, North and South, will remain open for Fee for Service individuals only. Please note Reena's Toby & Henry Battle Developmental Centre will have limited staff available for individuals who live with their families and need to attend programs. Training's remain open.

    2017 Trainings for People Supporting Individuals With Developmental Disabilities

    Reena has always been in the forefront of professional training in the field of developmental disabilities. Reena offers a comprehensive training program for our own staff, as well as, for staff from other agencies. In recent years, approximately 200 training events were offered, with over 7,000 registration spaces to Reena staff and staff from over 20 external agencies. Reena is a member of the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD).

    To view a list of 2017 trainings for people supporting individuals with developmental disabilities click here.

    Reena’s Learning and Development Department is able to accommodate off-site training requests for the existing curriculum offerings. Reena can also accommodate special requests for customised trainings to meet your organisations training needs. To learn more about this option and associated fees please contact Reena’s Learning and Development Department.

    Welcome to Reena

    Reena has taken the lead amongst a group of agencies to plan for and provide support to a young Canadian woman with autism living in the US. We have been working with the young woman, her family and professional team to help her transition from her family home and school in South Carolina to a Reena Home in Toronto and beyond. Please join us in welcoming this young woman to the Reena Community!

    Employment Advice Column: Career Searching In High School

    Employment Advice Column Artwork created by an individual supported by Reena.

    Dear Joanna,

    I’m in Grade 11 and just finished my final exam for this semester. I have one more semester to go until school is finally over for this year. I have no idea what I want to do for work when I grow up. How do I find the right career path while I am in school so I can start focusing my education and experiences  to achieve a good career fit?

    Signed: No clue what to do (NCWTD)

    Dear NCWTD,

    You are not alone with this dilemma. I am impressed that you are starting to think about the best career direction for you in high school.   As Dr. Lawrence Jones suggests in https://www.careerkey.org/explore-career-options/choose-career-cluster-career-field-career-pathway.html#.V3ESL7grLIU a good career fit could make a difference in “the grades you get, how much you like school, the college major or program of study you chose later on, whether you can find a job, and how satisfied and successful you are in a career.”

    Blogger Melanie Pinola provides great questions to consider that could help you decide at http://lifehacker.com/top-10-ways-to-find-your-career-path-1628537579 .

    1. Think About What Excites and Energizes You. Reflect on your school experiences especially the courses you are taking, and extra-curricular programs. What subjects do you like? Which ones don’t you like? Which ones do you have good grades, and which ones don’t? If you are volunteering, and working, which part of the experiences do you like and don’t like? Is there a job you would do for free?

    2. What are you good at? Focus on your current skills, strengths and personality. You can also explore skills that you don’t have but would like to learn. For example, if you are impressed with the leaders at your school (student council, yearbook committee, swim team), talk to the students to find out if they like it, what they are learning, how to learn these skills and consider joining in).

    3. Take a Career Test. Career Cruising is a free online career assessment through the public library in your area such as www.torontopubliclibrary.com or www.vaughanpl.info.  Ask your school career/guidance counsellor if there is any testing available through the school or community centre. Some high schools offer their students a Personality Dimensions assessment in the curriculum or a career exploration course in the curriculum.

    4. Try an Internship or volunteering. Test out an industry or career type as well as apply the results of the career tests. Ask your guidance counsellor if the school has internships available. Use your community service hours as an opportunity to explore your interests, strengths and passions. It’s a real-work experience that is also good for your resume, skills building, networking and career exploration. 

    5. Ask other people. Conduct information interviews. The best way to discover a new career is to ask other people about theirs. Your LinkedIn network (or other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, to name a few, are great tools to use to start and your local library's reference librarian can point you to career resources. Find professionals who are working in your dream job. Ask everyone you know who is happy with their careers for a meeting to get information about the field. You might also check to see if any companies or people in that line of work would let you shadow them for a few days to see what it's really like. Perhaps you can find a mentor too, which is another great way to explore a good career match.

    6. Explore Unconventional Careers. If you feel uninspired by the typical choices, there are thousands of unusual jobs you might not have heard about, hidden, perhaps, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook. Mashable has a list of six dream jobs or www.glassdoor.com that pay well.

    7. Make a career plan. As with most things, your career will benefit if you have goals and a plan for it. Maybe you think you want to be a writer, but the next step after that, is editing. (Do you really want to do that?) Or maybe you want to be a social worker? How are you going to get there?. Again, reach out for help from your school teachers and support staff, social media and any other research tools on the internet and at the library as well as speaking to people in the field or at least close to it. Prepare an action plan that will map out where you want to go and how to achieve your career goal.  

    8. Be flexible. Be open and ready to learn as much as possible. It is not a “linear path”. It is a process. It takes time and one opportunity can lead you to another opportunity (for example, another important person to meet in your dream job).

    To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Reena's Employment Resource Specialist, Joanna at jsamuels@reena.org.

    Employment Advice Column: 7 Job Search Tips

    Employment Advice Column Artwork created by an individual supported by Reena.

    Dear Joanna,


    I am a job seeker with disabilities who is looking for work in administration. I’m having a very hard time getting another job in my field. I am comfortable disclosing as well. Can you advise me on how to get a job?

    Signed: Able & Willing

    Dear Able & Willing,

    The renowned President of www.respectabilityUSA.org and disabilities advocate Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi offers some excellent advice in her article “10 Tips to Enable People with Disabilities to Get Jobs” on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-laszlo-mizrahi/10-tips-to-enable-people-_b_4261901.html. To address your question, I have revised her piece in accordance with my own experiences as a job developer/job coach with people with disabilities and barriers over the past 11 years:

      1. Do not look for work alone. Connect with a supported employment program or service. There are lots around the GTA. Reena offers http://www.reena.org/programs-and-services/programs/pathways-community/. If you are receiving Ontario Disability Support Program-Employment supports, http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/odsp/employment_support/index.aspx connect with your case worker to locate a service provider in your area.  
      2. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Be ready to ask your employment support staff to help you prepare your resume, the interview, and networking opportunities. Focus on your employment goal. Be open for part time or full time or contract or seasonal. Get your foot in the door. Look for opportunities where the pay is at least the minimum wage, adds Laszlo Mizrahi.

      3. Be proud and loud in telling people you want to work, suggests Laszlo Mizrahi. This is no time to be shy. She adds that most job seekers with disabilities “sit quietly on couches, with 10 million people [US stats] living in a cycle of dependency that undermines opportunity and hope” . Ask everyone you know if they are hiring for help in the office. For example, if you shop at a local pharmacy, ask the manager if they need any help with filing or office tasks, or if he/she knows someone else who is hiring in administration. Be flexible when you “ask for work”. Use social media like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, to name a few for networking, keeping current and getting job postings relevant to your job goal.

      4. While you look for work, and even when you are hired, I would volunteer in administration. It’s important to keep active and busy, and avoid being isolated. And it doesn’t hurt to get another reference.  Sometimes, volunteering leads to paid employment! It can help you build your professional network too. Ask members of your faith or other communities to help you find opportunities to make a difference and to build skills and experiences that will help you build your resume as well as keep it current.

      5. Know your own disability. Know the issues that impact you and all people with disabilities. Know your accommodations plus your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself. Don’t get into that “pity pot”. Use today’s technology to help you. For example, explains the blogger, a non-verbal person on the Autism spectrum can speak clearly through assisted technologies. The breakthroughs due to science, education, medicine and rehab are transformative. Individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities have demonstrated unique and profitable ways to contribute to the workplace.

      6. Chose the right employers. You can find the best places to work in Canada at forbes.com/canada-best-employers/list/ and http://www.canadastop100.com/diversity. I would target these company’s for information interviews with other employees in administration and the human resources department as diversity recruitment is a value.

      7. Never give up. Stay Positive. Keep busy. You have plenty of skills, experience and accomplishments your work history. You should feel proud. And you need to understand that the labour market is complex. Keep building your professional network using social media, attending events in your field and be busy as possible.


    To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Reena's Employment Resource Specialist, Joanna at jsamuels@reena.org.