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1 Taste And Tour Feature


Taste and Tours a Success

The Communitas Taste and Tours are an opportunity to enjoy great food and drink from local vendors while learning more about Communitas Supportive Care Society. That’s exactly what happened at two separate events in June as people gathered in Campbell River and Abbotsford to discover how the organization supports people of all abilities in their communities and across BC.

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Sarah De Klein ( centre, in black) greets donors at the Taste and Tour in Campbell River

Matt Dirks is the chief innovation officer for Communitas. He says the idea for Taste and Tours came out of a desire to do something unique that would connect the community to Communitas in a meaningful way. Because the Taste and Tours are focused on relationships, in a casual environment, it allows for more authentic connections.

“I love seeing who comes to these events,” Matt says. “It’s often a melting pot of people: local dignitaries, family of the people we serve, donors, local business owners, former staff, current staff, funders, and more.”

Sarah De Klein agrees. She oversees the Philanthropy department for Communitas and says the Taste and Tour events are an important way to connect with community.

“The Taste and Tours create an awareness about the scope of the work we do,” Sarah says. “When our presenters share about their work in a way that clearly shows how much they enjoy it, it truly connects with our guests in a personal way.”

First Time in Campbell River

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Guests sign in at the Taste and Tour at the Brandon Centre in Campbell River.

After guests sampled the delicious charcuterie and drinks at the Taste and Tour in Campbell River, they had the chance to tour the Brandon Centre – Communitas’ regional office for North Vancouver Island. This was the first Taste and Tour held in this community and it was a great success. Guests learned more about the organization’s home living options and how Communitas staff walk alongside people living with disabilities in community.

Kathy Saunders and Sheila Bennett are program directors in Campbell River. Both Kathy and Sheila were impressed with how their team stepped up to prepare for the event and then talked so comfortably with people about the impact of Communitas’ work in Campbell River.

“This experience allowed our community to see the pride our staff have for where they work and how they contribute to the lives of the people we serve,” Sheila says.

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Julia, Cassidy, and Erika were part of the team interacting with guests in Campbell River

Erika Loomis is a Licensed Practical Nurse working with Communitas. She enjoys opportunities to host events and was thrilled with the chance to be involved with the planning of the Taste and Tour. It was also an opportunity for her to share her own passion for the work of Communitas.

“It was great to see everyone collaborating towards the goal of sharing the gifts that Communitas brings to our community,” Erika says. “I take a real sense of pride for what we do and how we do it and it was so great to be able to share that.”

Erika also loved the opportunity to support local, often women-owned businesses in the community by using Balloons ‘n More Party Shop and All-in-One Party Shop, and bringing in food and drink from More Eatery, Beach Fire Brewing, and 40Knots Winery.

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Interacting with the presenters – all Communitas staff – made the experience more personal

Archana Rao was a guest at the Taste and Tour in Campbell River. She decided to attend because she wanted to support a local charity that does good work. She enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Communitas and particularly liked the way she was able to engage with presenters.

“I liked that you could talk to the team rather than listen to a presentation,” Archana says. “I learned a lot more about Communitas and the breadth of impact that it has. The team was very friendly and passionate about their work.”

Growing in Abbotsford

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Each presentation station included poetry from staff and people served

In Abbotsford, Taste and Tour has been growing with each successive event. The event held at the end of June was the fourth Taste and Tour in Abbotsford and Matt was excited to see new faces. He was also grateful for the staff presenters who were enthusiastically sharing about the work they do.

“We are regularly out in community quietly going about our work,” Matt explains. “What I love about this event is that it brings the community through our doors, and it gives staff and the people we support the opportunity to stop, reflect, and share their incredibly inspiring stories.”

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Supporting local businesses is an important part of Taste and Tour

Promoting local businesses was also an important part of this Taste and Tour. The event in Abbotsford included food from Little Sprout Café and drinks from Ravens Brewing and Mt. Lehman Winery.

Celebrating 50 years

Communitas is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so the Taste and Tours focused on four areas where the organization has experience and hopes to grow. Guests learned about new homes being built and about expanding services in mental health, in employment opportunities for people of all abilities, and in helping people with disabilities learn the life skills they need to live successfully. Sarah was particularly grateful to see some of the Communitas50 Fund Champions attend and see how their fundraising efforts will make a difference.

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Sarah De Klein and Dave Gustafson, who is a Communitas50 Fund Champion

“Having the opportunity to engage with our donors – as well as our funders and others interested in our work – is what drives us to host these events,” Sarah says. “This is what community looks like.”

The next 50th anniversary event takes place on November 22nd at The Reach Museum Gallery in Abbotsford.

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