Holiday and year-end message by Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, DIVERSEcity
It comes as a surprise to many of us that it’s almost 2022 and we’re still dealing with the ever-persistent pandemic. Back in March 2020, we hoped a two-week shutdown would stop the spread of the virus. When the reality of what we were facing became clearer, we realized we were going to have reassess everything that was normalized for us — differently.
At DIVERSEcity, we had long cultivated a nimble and responsive leadership culture, which quickly translated into innovative new ways of delivering our programs and services. Today, as we near the end of 2021, we offer a hybrid of virtual, by phone and in-person services — all with the needs and safety of our clients and employees top of mind.
During a time of great introspection, this new reality of social service delivery has given us clarity on a number of things. People in our community continue to need our support more than ever, and the disparities in our community are even more obvious. So, we will continue to work in allyship with partners and make internal investments to intentionally engage in the work of reducing systemic barriers. That means centering our work with justice, equity, diversity and inclusion practices, and continuing to advocate, practise and commit to truth and reconciliation.
But this virtual shift has also allowed us to expand our reach beyond what we ever imagined. So, as a charitable organization, we executed on intentional and purposeful growth plans in 2021, highlighted by the implementation launch of an organization-wide client management system to further invest into a client-centered design of all of our programs.
This past year also saw the expansion of our DIVERSEcity Newton Town Centre Campus on 137th Street. This campus is now a hub not only for our language and literacy programs and a child-minding centre, but for our health promotion department, which oversees our growing Mental Health, Substance Use and Violence Prevention Services. With our Early Years Programs located across the street, this location is prepared to serve the community in a comfortable, newly renovated and safe space with easy transit access.
We have also seen the addition of many new programs and services, including several new skills-focused employment programs to help the underemployed build the career they want in Canada, ensuring that a post-pandemic economic recovery includes the unique needs of marginalized communities.
This ability to respond meaningfully to emerging community needs is a direct result of the strong and compassionate staff at DIVERSEcity, whom we’ve been highlighting this year in our “People of DIVERSEcity” online and social media campaign.
As a leader, I recognize that this year has brought an unprecedented level of challenges both in and outside the workplace. The continued effects of the pandemic have upended each of our entire eco-systems: our health; our family’s health and needs; the needs of the community we serve; and the needs of our employees. In the midst of all this, I have found strength in embracing the “whole of self” leadership philosophy, grounding ourselves to how we are feeling in the present and creating space to have vulnerable conversations. Changing the narrative on what it means to be resilient has been a personal journey of unlearning and acceptance. For me personally, this has really shifted the mantra of resilient leadership over to intentional leadership, where leading with compassion, whole of self and recharging is seen as the new way forward.
Now, as we look ahead to 2022, a year where we’ll be welcoming more Afghan refugees and other newcomers to British Columbia, while still facing uncertainties about variants, DIVERSEcity will continue to rise up to support the people we serve and expand our programs and services, all guided by the vision of building our community into one where everyone belongs.
I want to wish a healthy and safe holiday season to our board of directors, staff, volunteers, clients and community partners. Let’s approach 2022 with gratitude for each other, compassion to understand that the heavy personal toll these challenging times have taken and grounding from the learnings we’ve had over the past couple of years. With renewed hope, we look forward to a new year that is kinder and safer for all.
Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, DIVERSEcity