December 3rd marks an important day – today is International Day of Person with Disabilities (IDPD). The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.


To learn more about this Day, that started in December 1992, please refer to the links below for articles, the history of the Day, webinars (some even happening today) and/or discussions on how we all can continue raising awareness on the challenges faced by people with disabilities:


One Word At A Time

“These days of COVID-19 are extraordinary…we are all taking part in a universal mental health exercise.

Michele Viner, author of “A Few Words About Mental Health”.

On January 12, 2021, Reena Foundation will be hosting “One Word At A Time”, a discussion with author Michele Viner, moderated by Dr. Marla Shapiro.   

A Few Words About Mental Health is just that; a list of words written for those struggling with mental health issues, and those who love and support them. Written through the eyes of a mother, this book does not speak to the medical aspect of the journey. Instead, it was written to address the emotional side of mental health, and to inspire and encourage, One word at a time.  

Here is a video from one of our Committee members, CTV Toronto’s Ken Shaw.

The event will include a virtual art exhibition featuring the creativity of individuals supported by Reena. The inspiration for the art will be based on their favourite words from the book.  

Tickets are $25 and include a copy of the book.

For more information or to purchase tickets:

2020 Provincial Budget – Analysis and Comments

On November 5, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, released the provincial government’s 2020 budget. The budget builds on the initial Action Plan to respond to COVID-19, announced on March 25th, and charts a course for the province’s recovery.  The complete budget is available here.

Since March 2020, the Ontario government has been working to respond to a global pandemic. This has resulted in increased investments of $7.7B in 2020-21 First Quarter Finances for hospitals, healthcare facilities, public health, assessment centres, long-term care homes, home care, Telehealth Ontario and others.

Reena would like to thank the Premier, Gila Martow, MPP, Minister Todd Smith and the Government of Ontario for their funding commitment in the budget of over $3.3 Million to fund the completion of the Lou Fruitman Reena Residence. This residence will deliver services and provide housing for individuals with developmental disabilities and other vulnerable persons. The provincial investment will go towards accessibility enhancements for 30 units and programming space for employment services and wellness programs.

Reena is pleased with the positive mentions of developmental services and the health sector in the budget. Reena’s Board President, Charles Chee, notes, “we are pleased to see the Ford government being engaged and proactive in our sector”.

“The Developmental Services Sector has, in particular, benefited from Minister Smith’s governance as he has consistently reached out to facilitate the efforts of agencies like Reena, who provide the essential services our communities depend upon”, said Bryan Keshen, Reena’s CEO.

“Premier Ford and Minister Smith have built together numerous opportunities for intersectoral collaboration, to the benefit of the developmental services sector. The Ontario Action Plan:  Protect, Support, Recover continues to build on that”, continues Keshen.  “We are pleased with the announcement of an increase in social assistance funding of $526M in 2021-22, which rolls back previously announced cuts”.

Reena requested that developmental services budgets need to be maintained and that the stabilization funding provided needed to be annualized.  The Government of Ontario listened and there is an increase of $361M in 2021-22 for developmental services to support current clients in service and new high-risk clients.

Reena requested that the extension of PASSPORT funding to provide for technology be extended, and this has been the case.

Reena has been at the forefront of Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) for the developmental services sector in conjunction with Safehaven and the Toronto Developmental Services Alliance.  We were pleased to note the commitment in the budget of $30M investment, over two years, to continue infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures in group homes, VAW shelters, the CAS system, and other congregate care settings.  We have been advised that our sector will receive approximately 50% of the amount mentioned.

As Reena gets more involved in the Health Sector, we are also very pleased that the government invested $26.75M to support a range of virtual and local MHA supports during the first wave of the Pandemic. The government is also providing the people of Ontario with additional MHA services including:

  • Additional community supports in both English and French, with a focus on stabilizing and enhancing mental health and addictions service delivery, and mobile crisis teams and safe beds for those experiencing a mental health crisis;
  • More core children and youth mental health services, including walk-in clinics, counseling and therapy, day treatment and live-in treatment supports, focused on helping children in school, keeping children out of child welfare and supporting those in need of intensive services;
  • A range of provincially available virtual supports including internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy, virtual addiction services, Kids Help Phone and continuation of supports for frontline COVID-19 health care workers;
  • Additional Indigenous supports;
  • More critical rent supplements to support emergency short-term rentals during the second wave of COVID-19;
  • Additional support for inter-professional primary care teams; and
  • A range of supports to seniors, those with disabilities, first responders and vulnerable populations.

These investments represent a significant injection of new funds and capacity in the DS and Health systems, which will help the 1,000 individuals supported by Reena. The Government, and in particular Minister Smith and his staff, have shown once again that they are ready to support us through these difficult times and continue to work with the sector to address our unique challenges.

Reena looks forward to continuing working with this Government and our sectors to fulfil our mission.

About Reena

Reena promotes dignity, individuality, independence, personal growth and community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities 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.



Sharon Magor, Marketing and Communications Manager / Reena /

(905) 763.8254/

2020/2021 Provincial Budget

Reena, like many social and health service organizations, has greatly
benefited from Premier Ford’s leadership and his government’s holistic
approach to supporting vulnerable people.

The Developmental Services Sector has, in particular, benefited from
Minister Smith’s governance as he has consistently reached out to
facilitate the efforts of agencies like Reena, who provide the essential
services our communities depend upon.
Premier Ford and Minister Smith have built together numerous
opportunities for intersectoral collaboration, to the benefit of the
developmental services sector.

In March when the first outbreak of COVID-19 occurred at Reena,
Premier Ford was on the phone and ready to support us. Several other
MPPs and cabinet colleagues have also stepped forward with offers
of assistance, which included deliveries of urgently needed PPE and
support for our front-line staff.

Their warm and passionate leadership has allowed for the creation of a
more inclusive Ontario, which is essential to the wellbeing of our most
This budget is further evidence of their strong and holistic approach to
supporting the Developmental Services Sector.

Bryan Keshen, Chief Executive Officer, Reena



Small Shot. Huge Impact.

With the cold weather here to stay for the next couple of months, and the possibility of chill and snow just around the corner, something else is upon us; the Flu Season 🤧

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a common, highly contagious respiratory infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs, and makes you feel quite ill. 

Flu symptoms usually last about 7-10 days and are not like a common cold. It is a serious infection especially in infants, seniors and people who have other pre-existing medical conditions 😷

This year, more than ever before, Reena would like to encourage all staff to get the flu shot. The flu shot is even more important this year, because of the timing of the pandemic. Some experts are cautioning against what they call a ‘Twin-Demic’ situation, where one could get infected with both 🤒

It is important to get the flu shot in order to protect yourself, your family, your colleagues, and the individuals we support and care for from the flu 💪❤️

Reena Bowling a HUGE success!

With your help, we raised $302,553.00 and counting…

This year, we brought Striking directly to those we support:
  • We organized week-long bowling activities
  • We delivered 100 pizzas
  • We delivered 400 Swag Bags and Medals
  • We delivered 500 Thank You Gifts to our frontline staff

We extend a heartfelt thank you to CTV Toronto’s Tom Brown for once again, being a fabulous MC.
We thank our incredibly generous sponsors and donors, outstanding committee, our virtual bowlers, our staff, volunteers and every member of the extended Reena family!

To view our virtual event, please click on the video below.


See you again next year at the “Striking For Reena” event.

Make A Wish…

Reflections from program participants.
This week was our first day back for the Channels North Day Program since we closed in mid-march. Everyone was very excited to reconnect with his or her peers and staff. The world has changed. Both in terms of how we interact (we get to wear cool masks) and in the seasons.
We are now in Autumn, and as part of our Drama program with instructor Mark, we wanted to celebrate the beauty of nature around us. It is easy to look at 2020 and be sombre, there were many things that give us reason to be, but there are also many more things to cause us to smile and feel gratitude for the year that has been and still remains.
So when you walk down a street, wear your mask and social distance, but also take the time to pick a fallen leaf and appreciate the beauty of the season and if you are really bold, stand in the circle, make a wish, and it might just come true.
Jonathan – ‘I had a phenomenal day, way better than expected and I am so happy to be back.”
Ryan – “I had a good day. My favourite part was Drama with Mark.’
Jordyn – ‘I feel rejuvenated”

New Chair of the Board

Reena is delighted to announce the appointment of Charles Chee as its new Chair of the Board.

Charles Chee – Incoming Chair
Replacing Jeff Bernstein as the Chair of our Board is Charles Chee who is a valued member of the Reena community. In 2015, Charles became a member of the Reena Board of Directors and shortly after served on the Continuous Quality Improvement committee.
Charles is a regulatory compliance executive with over 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and life science industries. His portfolio includes drug development, manufacturing and business development.

In 2015, Charles and a small group of colleagues founded Qing Bile Therapeutics Inc., a research and development pharmaceutical company engaged in finding cures for liver diseases. Over the past 10 years, Charles has provided consulting services for several companies on issues relating to regulatory compliance, drug development and manufacturing operations.
Serving the community has been an integral part of Charles’s life. Within his professional sphere, Charles serves as a board member at the Pharmaceutical Science Group (PSG), a not-for-profit industry organization focused on the development and training of pharmaceutical professionals.
Charles holds a Bachelor’s degree in Honours Biology from the University of Waterloo; a certificate in Business Administration from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, and a Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies from Tyndale University College and Seminary.
We are confident that Charles’s professional experience and commitment to Reena will be an asset as he embarks on his new role as our Board Chair. One of Charles’s responsibilities will be overseeing the implementation of Beyond 20/20, Reena’s new 2020-2025 strategic plan.

We wish him much success in the coming years.

Jeff Bernstein – Outgoing Chair
Reena would like to thank its outgoing Chair of the Board of Directors, Jeff Bernstein, for his two-years of leadership and almost a decade of service to the Board.
Jeff will be stepping down as chair but will not be leaving the Reena family. He has agreed to continue his service and leadership as a director of the newly formed Reena Community Services Canada and as a member of our Finance committee.
Jeff is an extraordinarily humble, passionate and capable leader. As treasurer and executive board member, he supported Reena’s transition to the new CEO and saw the growth of Reena by over 30% during his years of involvement. He has been on the Reena Board since 2012; Chair of the Finance committee for 5 years and served on the Batay Reena Board for numerous years.
Jeff has worked tirelessly to achieve significant change and progress in the expansion of services and supports in employment, community engagement activities, Judaic programs, transportation, housing, mental health services and so much more.
We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude for his dedicated service and wish him all the best.

Bryan Keshen, CEO

Happy Sukkot

Today marks the first evening of Sukkot, known as the ‘Festival of Booths’. Sukkot is a happy and festive holiday in the Jewish calendar.

During Sukkot, we traditionally bundle together four plants mentioned in the Torah: The Etrog (citron fruit), Lulav (frond of date palm) Hadass (myrtle bough) and Aravah (willow branch) – and wave them in the Sukkah as symbolic allusions to a Jew’s service of G-d.

Some scholars note that the binding of the four species symbolizes our desire to unite the four “types” of humans in service of God.

The Sukkah itself reminds us of our fragility and invites us out of our homes, recognizing that there are forces beyond our control, and despite the challenges, we can still find ways to rejoice in what we have. 

These days, in our community, our sector, province and beyond we are asked to come together and act in unison to overcome the challenges ahead of us – for the betterment of all humankind.

Reena’s staff, individuals and families are working in unison, day and night, to protect each other’s health – and with great success.

My heartfelt gratitude to all of you.

I want to wish you a safe and peaceful weekend and a happy Sukkot.

Bryan Keshen, CEO


Striking 4 Reena October 18th

9th Annual Striking for Reena  – Virtual Event

October 18th, Sunday, 12;00 pm

Striking for Reena is going VIRTUAL

We can’t bowl together, but we can still team up to have another successful event.

Striking has raised over $1.3 million to date and has funded many of Reena’s vital programs and initiatives. With increased expenses due to COVID-19, we need your support this year more than ever.

Click HERE to Support, Join or Sponsor 

Reena Members – Important AGM Notice

On September 16, 2020 at 6:30 pm Reena will hold its Annual General meeting.

Save the date and mark your calendars so you can join us.

Please send your email address to in order to receive details on how to join the meeting. 

To keep everyone safe in the current environment, this year’s AGM will be hosted solely online. You do not need to attend in person.

Following the AGM, at 7:30 pm, we will hold the community general meeting. This meeting will also be held virtually.

For more information, please contact