Frankfort Family Reena Residence Update

Update – March 9th, 2023

We wanted to provide you with an update on the Frankfort Family Reena Residence project (155/165 Elm Ridge). We are making steady progress. We have received zoning approval and have submitted a complete site plan application.

Our anticipated occupancy date remains on target for 2025. This is an aggressive timeline and we are working hard to meet this target. The expected demolition is scheduled to take place between May and September 2023. This will be followed by an application for excavation and shoring, which we plan to submit sometime between June and November 2023.

We have engaged Fieldgate Construction Management Limited (FCML) who was also the Construction Manager for the Lou Fruitman Reena Residence in Vaughan.  FCML will be on-site commencing in April 2023.
We are currently finalizing the permit drawings and working to identify and raise the capital contributions and financing required. Once this is completed, we will continue the process of evaluating unit allocations and will gain a better sense of how many units may be available within program areas.

We truly appreciate your interest in Reena and the Frankfort Family Reena Residence.  We are grateful for your support as we work towards the completion of this new residence.

Community Event – February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month


In honour of February as Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month,  help us celebrate the community we have worked so hard to create!

11:00 am –  2:00 pm – Non-ticketed event 

 Our program will include presentations and activities by TAP (Teaching Awareness Through Puppetry), Artist Rita Winkler, Potter Ben Sheps, Sensory Bag Play, Disability Jenga, an Inclusion Wall and so much more!!

2:30 pm – Ticketed event 

We will gather in the theatre for a special performance by Montreal-based Shira Choir led by Reverend Hazan Daniel Benlolo.  Featuring Toronto’s Special Voices Choir, with a guest appearance by world-renowned Cantor Simon Spiro.  Hosted by Aliza Spiro

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is a unified effort among Jewish organizations and communities worldwide to raise awareness and foster inclusion of people with disabilities and those who love them.

Event Partners: Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, Chai Lifeline, DANI, Friendship Circle, Jewish Family and Child Services, Jewish Vocational Services, KCC, Life and Hope, Miles Nadal JCC,  Rafiken, Reena. Regesh, Surrey Place, The Song Shul, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Yachad, Prosserman and Schwartz/Reisman JCC.


Buy Your Tickets Today

$150,000 OTF grant for Reena as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary

On Wednesday, MPP Laura Smith and MPP Stephen Lecce congratulated the team at Reena on the Capital grant it received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to improve its HVAC systems in the buildings that host its community participation programs for persons with developmental disabilities. The news of the grant came on the day that Reena marked its 50th Anniversary in the community.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education

Laura Smith, MPP Thornhill and Bryan Keshen, CEO, Reena

“Having a positive safe, healthy and fun environment allows our most vulnerable population to flourish and grow – which is what makes this grant announcement all the more pertinent,” said Laura Smith, MPP for Thornhill. “Reena is an incredible organization, and I am grateful for their hard work, dedication, support for and positive impact on Thornhill. Our government is proud to invest in more fruitful lives for our seniors and individuals with disabilities.”
With this funding, Reena will replace three existing HVAC rooftop units that are 26 years old with new equipment operating in accordance to new building code provisions pertaining to IAQ (Internal Air Quality), which is especially important during and post-COVID for vulnerable individuals. This includes, but is not limited to, increasing the amount of fresh air in circulation, full utilization of economizers that contribute to saving energy (Green approach), and integration with new Building-Automation-Software (BAS) for all units allowing for better scheduling of operations, which saves on energy. Reena will also integrate a special UV built into system devices to eliminate airborne contaminations and viruses.
“Our government continues to invest in Reena’s positive mission of delivering support and opportunity to Ontarians with developmental difficulties,” said Stephen Lecce, MPP for King-Vaughan. “While our government continues to invest in new residential homes dedicated to adults living with a developmental disability, we are also upgrading our existing homes with state-of-the-art ventilation to keep residents and staff safe.”
Reena cannot expand its community-participation programs without improved air quality. Thanks to this grant, the life of the premises will be extended with more environmentally friendly HVAC systems leading to better air filtration and air quality, keeping the vulnerable individuals Reena supports safer.
“We are very grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for investing in Reena,” said Bryan Keshen, CEO, of Reena. “This grant provides us with the funds necessary to support the upgrades of HVAC units, including air purification systems and BAS upgrades in all new and existing units, ensuring excellent air quality and circulation in Reena’s community participation programs.”
Community-participation programs boost participants’ mental and emotional well-being. Many vulnerable individuals with Developmental Disabilities want to continue spending time in their communities, but having a disability can impede this. However, with the support and resources provided by Reena, community involvement is made possible.

About Reena: Reena promotes dignity, individuality, independence, personal growth and community inclusion for people with diverse abilities within a framework of Jewish culture and values. Reena was established in 1973 by parents of children with developmental disabilities as a practical alternative to institutions. Since that time Reena has grown to provide support for 1,000 individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation: The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations celebrates 40 years of grant-making in Ontario and making a lasting impact in communities. Last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Visit to learn more.

Employment Advice Column: Understanding the Competitive Labour Market

Dear Joanna,


I’m a participant at Reena’s Community Participation and vocational program Channels. Before the Covid lockdown, I had started to look for work as a daycare assistant with the help of the job coaches. I’m ready to kick start my job search now and my Channels job coach would like me to understand the competitive job market as the first part of my job search.

Please can you explain this term and why this information is important to know and learn? 

Signed: Preparing for a Job (PFJ)


Dear PFJ,

To respond to your inquiry, I’ve consulted with the Reena job coaches as well as this excellent resource on the topic – Learning about the competitive job market in the daycare field is the first step in the process of getting paid employment in your field. It is complicated, competitive and tough out there! The following are suggestions of how you can learn about the labour market in your field of daycare – or any field for that matter!

  1. Definitions: Facing the facts. The definition of the labour market is huge. In brief, it’s information about the employment conditions in your field, or the operation of, and the demands of the job market by location. It can include how employers hire, job descriptions, salaries and benefits as well as education, training, and qualifications required for the job. Additional labour market information is current trends in government policies, effects of technology, and workplace changes. With this information in mind, the first step in the process is to understand the nature of the job market.
  2. Research the Industry. Research is a critical part of your job search. Before you can prepare a resume or cover letter, it is important to know what job opportunities are out there, what do employers want and look for when they hire, and which companies are doing the hiring. Where in Toronto will I find jobs in this profession? Is this industry growing or declining? What occupations within this industry am I qualified to do? Other ways to learn about your profession and opportunities is to research the industry’s associations and organizations as well as trade shows, conferences and conventions. Sometimes the associations have job boards, career fairs, information and networking events. I would definitely consider attending as many activities as possible. Occasionally, there are events at no cost, but most of the time there is a fee.
  3. Research the occupation. The National Occupation Classification (, social media websites especially LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed as well as company websites are great places to research your field. You can also conduct informational interviews and attend job fairs to gather this information. You can get an idea of the salaries, and what employers are looking for as well as understand the value of your current skills, strengths, experience and education in today’s marketplace; as well as what gaps you have in these areas. This is how you can figure out what technical skills you need to acquire, and what experience you need to gain for employment in your field. You may need to upgrade your skills and education in order to be more marketable.  
  4. Research the companies. COMPILE a list of all the companies where you might like to work. Research the social media sites, Indeed, Glassdoor and even google to gather this information. For example, type in the keywords for your search “Daycare” and “Toronto” in Indeed. And then you can check out each company’s website, their job postings, and profile of the staff, the management, their mission and other information on the company to ion. Understanding the business needs is crucial for understanding the labour market.
  5. Information Interviews. An invaluable research tool for relevant and current labour market information for your job search is an information interview. It’s a meeting between you and a professional working in your field to ask questions in order to learn as much as you can about the jobs, salaries and other details in the daycare field. It’s also a great way to build your professional network and meet people in your dream job who might even consider hiring you! Here’s a good website to learn about this type of job search activity –
  6. Network. Network. Network. The more professionals you meet in the daycare field, and the more knowledge you will have on the labour market, the more focused and productive you can conduct your job search. All of the information can be used to prepare a successful resume, cover letter and eventually the scripts for your interview presentation. Some ways to the network include attending job fairs, trade shows, conferences, and association events, creating or joining Linkedin groups, and volunteering in the field in an organization with a recognized volunteer department.

It is no wonder why it is a full-time job looking for a job. I would recommend engaging in this process with your job coach.  Map out an employment action plan and start implementing the techniques slowly and surely, step by step is key. Even when you do get hired, you will still need to continue to understand the labour market as long as you intend to work!




To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Joanna, Reena’s Employment Resource Supervisor  at

From The 905 to the Raptors 905


On Monday, December 5th the Reena Pathways and Channels groups visited the Scotiabank Arena to watch the Raptors 905 team play a basketball game against the Greensboro Swarm.

“I went to my very first Raptors 905 game and it was an absolute blast!”, said Jordyn S., who attends a lot of Raptors games. “Incredibly fantastic, thumbs up”, added Elyse C.

Karthika R, a big Raptors fan who watches the games at home, said “the game was exciting”, and Jason B. rated it 100/100.

It was a lively crowd and it was a new experience for many in the group who had not attended a Raptors game previously, like Ryan G.

Julianna S. agreed that “the basketball game was amazing. so good!”

The game also included an exciting surprise – a visit from the mascot, who said hi and took fun pictures with the group. Jonathon B. said, “I really liked it because when we went there, we took a picture with the mascot and cheered with him”.

However, the game became a little lopsided for the away team. Josh and Jason both agreed that “the Swarm kicked butt”!

The final score was 116 – 101 for the Swarm, but that never dampened the spirits of the group. They cheered on and contributed to the ruckus that was a very lively crowd for a Monday afternoon game.

Anita L., looking ahead, said “I’m so excited to go to way more Raptor games!”.

The Reena group will go to another Raptors 905 game on March 16, 2023, and a Toronto Marlies hockey game on March 17th. Stay tuned for more adventures! 

Employment Advice Column: Handling tight work deadlines

Dear Joanna

I’m a happily employed accounting assistant at a large company that I secured through my job coach from Reena’s Channels supported employment program. My boss has requested that I complete the data entry of 100 financial statements with only a week’s notice. With the holidays just around the corner, and based on my past work experiences, I will require a lot longer to be able to  achieve this deadline.  What’s the best way to approach my boss and this unrealistic expectation?

Signed: Deadline Dread

Dear DD,

After consulting with the Reena job coaches as well as Wardynski’s blog and based on my own experiences, the following are some strategies to consider before you present this issue to your boss:

  1. Deadlines Outside of your Control. Sometimes, the boss doesn’t understand the work involved in this task. He or she could be pressured from above to get this done as quickly as possible – and even expecting high quality of work – regardless of whether or not the deadline can be met. The first step is to ask to meet with your boss. Be clear and open about the task and what’s involved. Be empathetic and let the boss know that you understand the urgency and that you want to help. Then, explain what YOU CAN accomplish within this tight deadline. Don’t focus on WHAT YOU CAN’T DO.  Prepare an excel spreadsheet with the breakdown of a schedule with expected timelines and daily goals of what you can complete with 100% accuracy. For example: Week One: 25 statements; Week Two: 25 Statements; and so on.
  2. Prioritize. Step two could be an opportunity to discuss your “timeline flow chart schedule” with your boss to find out which documents are most important and most urgent to least urgent. It’s important to explain the process and then you can adjust your schedule accordingly. Again, you need to be clear, transparent and respectful of the pressure being put on your boss and of course on you as well. Be honest without blaming anyone.
  3. Asking for help. Sometimes your assigned work could overlap with other teams or departments within your company. Check out with your boss if this is the case. And then see if you can share information and even join the team to work together to achieve this deadline. Perhaps there are other co-workers who can help out for faster results. Be careful with this request as you want to find the  best way to do this to ensure that you are respecting the company culture. Your boss might have to be the one to ask for this help. And you can have a better chance of meeting your deadline.
  4. Ongoing status check ins with the boss. As soon as you start the work required, it’s important to keep your boss informed on a daily basis as to the amount of work you have accomplished that day. Find out from the boss how he or she prefers the communication – by email, in person and/or by phone.  Being transparent is key. By keeping your boss in the loop, he or she won’t be blindsided in case you miss the deadline. Remember to focus on what you are doing and not what you are not doing. And if you have to work extra hours to accomplish your daily goals, or the final deadline, I would do so but always let the boss know this as well.

Good luck with meeting your deadline. I am sure you will be successful.


Bottom of Form


Dear Joanna,

After many job interviews, and plenty of help from my Reena job coach through the  community participation program Channels, I am  excited to report that I received a job offer for a receptionist position with a local social service agency.

But the salary is lower than the market rate by about 10 thousand dollars! I would like to negotiate the salary but am afraid of jeopardizing the success of my new position or the offer. I have spent countless months on this job search, and I just want a job. I don’t want to make my new employer angry and then renege on the job offer.

I am tempted to just accept the offer. However, I am concerned that I might be resentful after a while on the job given the salary is below my expectations. Please could you advise me on how to negotiate my salary in a professional and secure manner.

Thanks so much.

Signed: Salary Blues (SB)


Dear SB,

Congratulations on your new job. This is exciting news. It’s a complicated topic with many perspectives on negotiating the salary but all experts advise you to do so only after you receive the job offer!

Although dated, Shapiro (2008) offers relevant suggestions on how to negotiate your salary in her book “What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here?”.  According to the author, the company wants you, needs you and has chosen you, and this is the one time you can ask for money and benefits that you desire and have the greatest chance of getting. Negotiating will show the company that you know that you are worth it and are not afraid to ask. This will help you enter your new position from a point of strength, solid ground, setting you up for success with key decision makers behind you. However, cautions Shapiro, the way you ask is critical to your success and you must prepare a script in advance if you do decide to approach the new employer.

Further, during the job interview, did you ask if there is room for promotion and career advancement with this position? If there is growth, then it could be worthwhile for you to accept the job and start building your career there rather than discuss the salary.

If you do decide to negotiate, Shapiro’s tips could help you to obtain your deserved salary.

  1. Make sure you know the market rate for you in this position. Remember that the salary you can command varies, based on where you live and your skills, experience and education. Check out other job postings for receptionist positions on Indeed, LinkedIn and other organizations in the same sector. You can also research salaries on or
  2. Express your appreciation to the hiring manager for supporting your higher compensation package offer, before asking to negotiate further; consider ending off the conversation with “I’m thrilled about the additional ten percent; but I was really hoping for $x; is there anything else we can do here?”
  3. Prioritize. Determine the top one to three things you will be asking for and go back to the negotiating table no more than twice; negotiate each individual item before moving on to the next.
  4. Don’t rush. Keep calm and in control. The hiring manager might try to pressure you to make a quick decision, but take time to consider your options and make a decision you can live with.
  5. Be flexible. If you were not able to get the salary you were asking for, ask for extra vacation time or another priority on your list by saying something like “Would it be possible to make up the difference in the signing bonus?” You should also be aware when the negotiations are over, the hiring manager’s tone will change. At this point you must decide if you wish to accept the offer.

Additional tips are offered by Kearns (2011) in his article He explains that negotiating the salary package is difficult, but the process could be a great opportunity for you to show that you can remain professional and clear-minded in any type of working environment. Plus, your pre-negotiation preparation could be the best investment you will ever make. So use these negotiation techniques and get the salary you really deserve.

For more information, check out Shapiro’s book and Kearns’ article in addition to countless blogs on the subject.  

I wish you lots of success with your salary negotiations.



To submit your questions for this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email Joanna at

Reena’s Annual Community Meeting – September 22, 2022

On September 22nd, 2022, Reena held its third virtual Annual Community Meeting. Only a handful of speakers were present on-site and the rest of the community were watching from the comfort of their homes.

This year, we were hounoured to feature Adam Vaughan as the keynote speaker. You can see his address in the video below (3:09 time mark).

Updates on last year’s activities were given by Reena’s three Chairs of the Boards and several awards were given to worthy individuals who contributed tremendously to Reena.

  • Board member of distinction Award – David MacCoy
  • Morris Baker Ish Tzaddik Award – Charlene Brown, Director of Home and Community Care Support Services Centra.
  • Rabbi Joseph Kelman Humanitarian Award – to City of Vaughan Mayor, Maurizio Bevilacqua.
  • Employer of the Year Award – Holy Grounds Cafe at Holy Blossom Temple
  • Employees of the Year Award – Joey Lax-Vanek, Elisa Vader, Tikvah Chasen, and Rafi Azrieli


Truth and Reconciliation Day – Sept 30th

Not long ago, we saw the closing of residential schools and institutions; for many Canadians the pain and memory are fresh, raw and very real.

This year, the day dedicated to Truth and Reconciliation falls between the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur during the Ten Days of Repentance.

These are days of mercy and forgiveness, days for confessing one’s sins, checking one’s conscience, and, most importantly, making amends as an opportunity for change.

This year, on September 30th, we participate in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and take this opportunity to reflect on Canada’s history and the impact of the residential school system–we recognize the pain and seek a path forward that is inclusive and sensitive to the trauma.

On this day we commemorate the children who never returned home while also honouring the tenacity, dignity, and courage of survivors and multigenerational survivors.

It’s an opportunity for discussion and education about Canada’s past and how it affected Indigenous communities. Recognizing this day is one of the first steps in a long journey towards understanding and meaningful reconciliation.

May we have a sweet new year and may it be inscribed for a life of good.

#ReenaFoundation respectfully acknowledges that the Cities of Toronto and Vaughan are on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The cities of Toronto and Vaughan are covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work, live and play on this territory.

Learn more:

Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf (

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation –





Dear Joanna,

I am a high school student with diverse abilities who is participating in Reena’s Summer Employment Transitions program. I have been applying for remote data entry positions, and thanks to my job coach, I have a job interview next week. Job interviews are so stressful and not knowing whether or not to disclose my disability to the employer is causing me even more anxiety. Please can you advise me as the best way to deal with this issue?

Signed: Stressed to Disclose


Dear SD,

One of the most challenging aspects of the job search process for people with disabilities is dealing with disclosure. There are pros and cons of disclosing during any part of the job search process – in your cover letter? At the job interview? After the job interview? I consulted with the Reena job coach team as well researchers Hoff, Gandolfo, Gold, and Jordan (2000) in “Training Resource Network” who offer the following suggestions to help you make an informed decision on disclosure at the job interview:

Evaluate the risks of disclosing

Analyzing the risk factors of disclosing from the employer’s point of view is a critical step for all job seekers. You take a chance that you may not be hired; you may be labelled and face discrimination. Unless your disability could put you or someone else at risk, telling an employer about it is a matter of personal choice. If safety is an issue, you’ll need to disclose your disability at an appropriate time. If you do decide to disclose, consider the following questions before you move ahead: Will this information help or hurt your chances of getting or keeping the job? How will the interviewer react? If you have your disability under control, is there a reason to disclose? Do your coping strategies allow you to meet the job requirements? And are you qualified for the position as well. If you know you can’t perform some of the duties of the job description because of your disability, would disclosure help you get the job?

Benefits of disclosing

There are certain companies that specifically seek to hire persons who identify with a disability. For example, Canada’s Top 100 Best Diversity Employers and federally regulated companies like banks, telecom, transportation. It might be good to disclose that you have a disability (you don’t need to mention what it is) in an application, resume, cover letter, and job interview. Sometimes employers value your openness and how you overcome your disability. Also, the employer can provide accommodations if you disclose. Information interviews, networking, using social media (especially LinkedIn) and finding a mentor in your field are strategies to learn as much as you can about the company and its culture so you can make an informed decision regarding disclosure at the interview.

Stay positive

In the interview, focus on your abilities, skills, experience, and enthusiasm that you will bring to the job, not your limitations. Describe what you can do for the company, rather than what you can’t do. Also, prepare for the job search by identifying employers and companies that also focus on your abilities and strengths. Make sure your skills and experience are a good match for the role and that the work meets your needs. For example, unless your disability could put you or someone else at risk, telling an

employer about it is a matter of personal choice.

Know your Accommodations

It’s important to know exactly what you need to be successful on the job! This is your job. For example, do you need to have extra time for training? Do you need to have a mentor at the workplace or a job

coach on site? Do you require some time off for doctor’s appointments (and you can make up the time during the week)? If you do get the job, you can discuss accommodations with the hiring manager providing you are qualified for the job. Keep the discussion positive and be very clear as to what you CAN DO AND WHAT YOUR ABILITIES AND STRENGTHS ARE. Assure the employer (and yourself) that you will be a most competent and professional employee. Hoff et al write, “Generally, it is best to begin by disclosing only to those who need to know. This allows the individual to form relationships prior to disclosure and helps diminish stigma.”

Disclose during the job interview

Be concise and prepared to explain the gaps in your resume whether or not you decide

to disclose. For example, “For the last three years, I’ve been dealing with a medical issue, but it’s under control now and I’m ready to work. I have been learning many skills on my own through youtube trainings such as “MS Office” and “Office Skills” . Legally, the interviewer can only ask questions about your disability that relate directly to the requirements of the job. It is illegal to ask any other questions (personal or professional) about your disability.

Job coach support

If you are part of a supported employment program for people with disabilities, your job coach will handle the disclosure and accommodations in advance with the employers prior to and during the placement. Once again, it is important for all job seekers with disabilities to understand their disabilities and accommodations. Being able to articulate this information to both the agency support staff and employer in a clear and concise way will make for a more successful and sustainable placement.

Regardless of your barriers or disabilities, employers are looking for the most qualified candidate who is the best fit with the workplace culture and team whether or not the individual has a disability.


Good luck with your job interview!



Note: Please feel free to email your questions, comments and concerns regarding employment and career issues in confidence to Joanna Samuels, Employment Supervisor, REENA, at


Dear Joanna,

I am happy to report that I started a new job as a purchasing assistant this week and even though I have a job coach from Reena’s Channels program, I am still very nervous and uptight about being in a new place and new on the job! All the staff are welcoming and nice to me but I still feel like a stranger in a strange land. Please can you help me be less overwhelmed at my new job.

Signed: Overwhelmed

Dear O,

It’s normal that you feel anxious about starting a new job but you don’t want to let this stress get in your way of being a fantastic employee.  I consulted with Reena’s  job coaches as well as some resources online and would like to share the following tips that could help you with new employee stress:

  1. You are not in a competition. If you are feeling unsure about your skills and being able to learn and perform the tasks of your job compared to others in your team, remember that you did get the job offer. The employer wants you for your skills and experience. You have earned the job offer and you don’t need to prove anything to the employer. You just need to focus on learning the tasks, asking your job coach for help as well as making sure your boss knows what you have completed at the end of the day.
  2. Show that you love to learn and are teachable. Demonstrate to your employer that you enjoy learning new tasks and new skills and you are not afraid to admit when you don’t know something or you did something wrong – but always like to learn from your mistakes. If you need extra time to learn a task, try to figure it out with your job coach and perhaps there is a video or youtube training on this. Check it out on google.
  3. Showing up / Being present. Research demonstrates that being reliable, responsible and punctual is one part of success as a new employee but showing up also means listening, seeing, observing and following instructions. Being in the moment rather than thinking about your stress of what you can’t do.
  4. You don’t have to be perfect! Focus on the positives – what you are learning, how you are learning from your mistakes, and taking notes of your progress on the job week to week. Set realistic milestones or goals for yourself. You can ask your job coach and employer to help with that. For example, if your boss wants you to enter in 100 suppliers into the company software database per week, then definitely work towards this. Progress could mean reaching these goals or learning a couple of functions in the new database software and being able to use these skills with ease. Measure your progress in small bits – bit by bits! You still need to learn the rules of the company. You are not perfect and you cannot expect perfection.

I hope these guidelines can help you be less overwhelmed and stressed at your new job and enjoy the journey to be a superstar employee!



Please send your questions in confidence on employment, career and related issues to Joanna Samuels, Employment Supervisor, Reena, at

City Council Approves Reena’s Third Intentional Community Building 

On July 19, 2022, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Reena Affordable Housing Project at 155-165 Elm Ridge. A housing model that provides independence, affordability and accessibility while offering 24/7 around-the-clock resources for its residents. 

This truly is a life-changing opportunity for many families.  

Thanks to the leadership of the Frankfort Family, we have an opportunity to accelerate this project and break ground in the Fall of 2023.  

Reena would like to thank the many people and organizations who supported us along the process, as we try to do our part in providing housing for individuals with developmental disabilities: 

  • City of Toronto Council and the North York Council – Recognized the need, supported us early and ensured that additional housing would be ready as soon as possible. 
  • Councillor Mike Colle – From the moment we proposed the development to him, Councillor Colle understood the need, assisted us every step of the way, introduced us to community members and leaders, hosted several community consultations, and assisted us every step of the way to get to this wonderful result. 
  • Mayor John Tory who has been, and continues to be, a strong proponent of Reena and our Supported Housing efforts.   
  • The Concept 2 Keys (C2K) team at the City of Toronto – An incredible initiative at the city that led to reduced planning time resulted in efficient outcomes for the whole process. 
  • The neighbours and the community at Elm Ridge Drive – Very supportive of the plan from the get-go. Public consultations were well attended and were able to have collaborative conversations about the current needs and the solutions this building will provide. 
  • The Oakwood-Vaughan (OV) Community Organization – Supportive community engagement from the get-go. They wanted to know what we were doing, and how they could get involved and become key players in Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) solutions lab on mutual inclusion. 
  • Toronto Housing Secretariat – For their early and significant support through the City of Toronto Open Door Affordable Housing Program, which allowed us to hit the ground running. 
  • Toronto Community Housing – For working with their neighbours to ensure deeply affordable housing with supports could be built by other agencies. 
  • CMHC Seed Grant Funds – For supporting Reena with grants which allowed early-stage studies to be completed. 



In 2012 Reena completed a major new innovative residential development project. Located in the Lebovic Campus on Bathurst Street in the City of Vaughan, the Reena Community Residence is a midrise apartment building accommodating 60 self-contained rental apartments housing 84 individuals with developmental disabilities.  

Following this housing project, in 2019 construction began on the Lou Fruitman Reena Residence, a 79-unit apartment building with 138 beds spread across six floors, located at 919 Clark Avenue West in Thornhill, which was completed in June 2021. 

In view of the success of both these residences and the continued demand for housing, the Reena Board of Directors has decided to develop a third Reena Community Residence: The Frankfort Family Reena Residence. 

This new building will be modelled on the success of the Lou Fruitman Reena Residence and Reena Community Residence (opened in 2012).   

The Frankfort Family Reena Residence will be the largest residential project in Reena’s 50-year history.  


The building will:  

  • Be located on Elm Ridge Drive in Toronto’s upper Forest Hill neighbourhood. 
  • Become home to an estimated 160 individuals.  
  • Include units designed for independent or shared living arrangements and specialized units for complex care.  
  • Have floors designed to serve people with mental health conditions.  
  • Feature many amenities, including respite suites, programming spaces, a gymnasium, a garden, and an underground parking garage. 



Bryan Keshen, CEO 

$125,600 OTF Grant helped Reena Deliver Programs Online

Last Friday, Laura Smith, MPP for Thornhill, met with representatives from Reena Community Centre for a tour of the space. She also had an opportunity to learn more about the impact that a $125,600 Resilient Communities Fund grant, awarded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2021, has had in helping staff with needed technical equipment due to the pandemic.

“Reena, like so many non-profit organizations across Ontario, is a crucial and valued part of the community,” said MPP Smith. “People with diverse abilities and their families rely on Reena’s services every day, and even faced with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they found a way to deliver. With support through the Resilient Communities Fund, their staff have access to the tools and tech they needed to adapt and to continue helping those who need it most.”

Through its many programs, Reena is an organization supporting close to 1,000 persons with developmental disabilities, the majority of whom are immuno-compromised and considered at risk. When COVID-19 first hit in early 2020, Reena’s entire outreach and respite day programs were forced to close, affecting 500 individuals, visitors were not permitted at a further 40 residential group homes, supporting 439 persons and Reena’s executive, administrative and non-direct care staff at Reena were also mandated to work from home.

As it pivoted to meet strict social distancing demands, the organization realized that its technology infrastructure was insufficient inside its group homes. Thanks to the Resilient Community Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Reena was able to purchase 50 laptops and other needed technical equipment so that staff could work effectively from home. In addition, Reena bought 400 licenses for computer security training programs to enhance data security and protect personal health information.

“We are very grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for investing in Reena,” said Bryan Keshen, CEO of Reena. “This grant provided us with the funds necessary to rebuild and recover from impacts of COVID-19 by ensuring that our employees working from home can fully and safely function as if they were at the office.”