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Proud to be part of Communitas

When a friend invited Gary Falk to sit on the board of Communitas Supportive Care Society, Gary was hesitant. Unlike many of the other board members at the time, he had no connection to Communitas or to the kind of work that Communitas does. He was also curious about what it meant when Communitas described itself as “faith-based.”

“But when I heard that Henri Nouwen has had a big influence on Communitas, that he was an inspiration, I knew I was on the right track,” he says.

Nouwen’s influence on the ethos of the organization was evident as Gary explored Communitas’ website and interacted with board and staff members. It was the stories that spoke strongly to him.

“I love it that Communitas doesn’t see its mission as fixing people or judging people. We are called to love and care and embrace people as equals.”

Now that he’s been on the board for 5 years, one year as its chair, Gary has had an opportunity to see much of the work that Communitas does and he is impressed. He feels that Communitas has set the standard very high and is amazed at how staff people rise to the challenge each day. He attributes that to the room for creativity that staff are given to tailor care to meet the needs of the individual.

Gary has also seen the organization go through a great deal of change. He came onto the board at a time of transition, when Steve Thiessen was retiring after 30 years as the head of the organization.

“I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to continue the legacy set by Steve and so many of the others who had been with Communitas since its very beginning,” he reflects. “But I believe that the organization went through a very, very thorough process in hiring Karyn (who stepped into the role as CEO) and it is in very good hands.”

He is inspired by each board meeting. Each meeting begins with dinner and is always an opportunity to talk about the organization’s strategic direction.

“Karyn keeps the vision in our minds. I can tell you what our five strategic goals are, I know where we’re at and how we’re doing,” he says. “This keeps it fresh and the board members are buying in.”

The fact that Communitas is internationally accredited (by the Council on Accreditation) is a point of pride and is proof of the hard work that each staff member does to maintain the excellent level of care for the people it serves.

“This is one of the best-run organizations I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of and ultimately it’s because Communitas cares about the people it serves – to a tee,” he says. “I am proud to say that I am part of Communitas.”

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