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Our Response to COVID-19

May 7, 2020

Dear families and friends of Communitas,

We are grateful for the love and support that we have been experiencing from the community and from families and individuals we support. We are also deeply thankful for the staff and caregivers of Communitas as they continue to support, serve and bless others.

As our provincial government begins to lay out the BC Covid-19 Go-Forward Management Strategy we are watching, listening, reading and carefully adapting to the guidelines being developed by the province. In the days ahead, we expect to see and respond to detailed guidelines that will apply specifically to the social care sector and the actions that we take will be in accordance with these plans.

We are committed to doing our part in protecting lives and protecting the health care system from being overwhelmed; we are also committed to ensuring that the needs of both the individuals we support and the staff and caregivers working on the frontlines are met.

Communitas continues to support the directives of the provincial medical health officer, including:

  • Staying home as much as possible
  • Avoiding non-essential travel
  • Maintaining good hand washing
  • Practicing physical distancing of at least two meters
  • Using respiratory etiquette

Our residential services remain stable and free of COVID-19, thanks to the many caring staff members and their efforts. While BC is working to find that “sweet spot” over the next months, we look forward to remaining vigilant while at the same time, gently tempering the restrictions on visitors and outings as our province slowly opens up again.

As we prepare to again modify our day-based services in the weeks ahead, we will adopt the principles laid out in the provincial go-forward strategy in order to minimize transmission. The principles are:

  1. to modify activities in such a way as to help reduce and shorten contact; and
  2. to minimize the number of people in a common setting through adhering to the 2-6 person rule and applying the physical distancing guidelines.

We will continue to promote and accommodate self-care amongst our staff and amongst the individuals we support. People who are sick with cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to stay away from the workplace.

In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, “these are challenging times for all of us” and Communitas is meeting that challenge, by continuing “to do what we are doing for a bit longer” as we all help to bend the curve.

Please know that we are here for you, for your loved ones and for the communities in which we serve. There are so many beautiful stories of caring and sharing that are emerging out of this pandemic and I invite you to click over to our stories page to be encouraged.

On behalf of our leadership team,
Karyn Santiago

April 3, 2020

Dear Friends and Family of Communitas,

“We are all healers who can reach out and offer health, and we are all patients in constant need of help.”– Henri Nouwen

One of our administrative support staff sent in this quote today with the following reflection:

It felt like such a great reminder to me of how I am supporting my colleagues who are on the front line, but it also highlighted my own need for reassurance…..I’m realizing that it’s so much easier for me because I share my home, so I’m not nearly as isolated as someone living alone.

It is a good reminder. We are caregivers; we continue to give of ourselves on a daily basis in the midst of a crisis. Let’s not forget one another and let’s take the time to ensure that one another are okay – even as we continue to support others. Keep checking in on others. Keep asking how are you with the intention of really knowing. Keep sharing the good stories.

Communitas staff continue to be here for you and your loved ones. And we continue to update our Questions and Answers section as we have new information to offer.

Provincial Announcements for Persons with Disabilities Benefits This week we heard important announcements from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. Here are a few of the critical points taken directly from the Ministry’s website:

  1. Income and Disability Insurance

If you are not receiving federal Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and are on:

  • Income Assistance
  • Disability Assistance
  • Comforts Allowance
  • BC Senior’s Supplement

You will automatically receive a $300 supplement on your cheques issued in April, May, and June. No action is required on your part.

If you are receiving federal EI or the CERB and receiving:

  • Income Assistance
  • Disability Assistance

You will not be eligible for the $300 supplement.

CERB and EI are temporarily exempt, meaning they will have no effect on your regular Income Assistance or Disability Assistance.

  1. BC Bus Pass Program

If you are on Disability Assistance and receiving the BC Bus Pass:

  • There is a current province-wide suspension of BC Transit and Translink bus fares
  • You will automatically receive the $52 Transportation Supplement on your cheque starting in April
  • This will continue for as long as BC Transit and Translink are suspending fares
  • No action is required on your part. Your bus pass will not be cancelled and will remain active for use on Sky Train and Sea Bus services. You will not need to re-apply once fares are re-instated
  • For people already receiving the Transportation Supplement of $52, there is no change and no action is required on your part

Daily Updates and Helpful Ideas: Communitas has several social media platforms that they are using to provide updates and encouragement, and to offer ideas for how to make our way through the self-isolation phases of this pandemic. Please visit us at: and and

Our executive team wishes you peace in the midst of this crisis,
Karyn, Gillian, George, Jeff and Kelly

March 21, 2020

Hello Friends and Family of Communitas,

Two days ago, I shared with our staff some of the beautiful stories that are emerging in this time of unprecedented challenge. I love how the people we serve and our staff members are rising to meet the challenges and are supporting others by going the extra mile.

This week, I celebrated as our Supported Independent Living manager took it upon herself to create a fourteen-day wellness challenge for individuals with mental health challenges.

Then, I stood in awe as a program director, in less than 12 hours, answered the call and sourced G-tube food for a family that found themselves running short.

Other staff members, finding themselves with freer schedules, put up their hands and volunteered to “go anywhere, do anything.” At the same time, we began receiving calls from others in our community offering to come work for Communitas because they were without their own work.

Another person keeps sending out funny little encouragements that keep us all laughing. The comic relief is deeply appreciated as it helps keep us going during these long days.

Our end-of-the-week story was really one of celebration. It started with a contractor who stepped up and offered to relocate with one of the people they support. It unfolded in the course of the day with program directors, admin staff, coordinators and maintenance personnel working collectively to pull together a home. And it ended with a house that was ready to welcome people by 4:00 pm that same day.

The resiliency and strength of many is inspiring!

Communitas offers essential services and we have heard that reiterated by the Medical Health Officer and by our funders again this week. Through this crisis, staff will keep working, payroll will be processed, bills will be paid and administrative and leadership supports will ensure that our front-line workers are cared for each day.

Though we do not have services happening in our offices, our administrative supports are still available and we have moved to a leaner structure– one that keeps people working AND ensures social distancing for everyone.

We will continue to ensure that all people of all abilities have the support and safety they need at this time.

We believe in the abundance of caution being asked of us by our provincial government. We also strongly believe in the abundance of grace that Jesus offers us.  And to that end we pray that we may continue to provide places of belonging, growth and contribution for you and for people of all abilities.

On behalf of the whole leadership team,
Karyn Santiago

Our executive team: Jeff Hirch, George Jacob, Gillian Viljoen, Karyn Santiago, and Kelly Beaulieu



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