Humboldt & District Community Services (HDCS) is one of the pillar support organizations in the area that defines Humboldt’s inclusive community. The theme of a “return to normal” was not lost on the staff, board and clients as their list of programs began to re-engage clients and community. The frequent refrain of “making due with digital” has given way to renewed energy in face to face initiatives. That’s led to some new offerings through HDCS. 

We were able to expand on some of our current programming, so that was nice to see,” said Director Juanine Korte. “It created some positive changes, and allowed some additional supports for the clients we serve.”

Supporting clients job searches and developing employment skills is mission critical for many of their clients. Korte says those services continue to expand in areas like pre-employment development, training, certifications, and job performance supports.

“Something new this year that we’re excited about is our Career Labs VR (virtual reality) which is a career decision making system. That gives job seekers an opportunity to explore, learn, and discover a variety of career options.”

Using the virtual reality headset and software, clients can literally immerse themselves in the work of tradespeople and artisans to better assess whether or not a career path is worthy of exploration. It all happens right in the HDCS office.

Once again, the Work Crew could get out to help people handle tasks big and small. While work opportunities for the Crew typically slow down in the winter months, the coordinator has been busy making new connections that extend the seasonal work time, says Korte. 

“If you have a last minute project in mind or need help with winter maintenance, then please give Joel a call at the office,” says Korte. 

Through their employment resource centre, which is open to the public, people can access computers, programs and tools to assist in the job search process. Korte says about 80-100 people per month use the service, a rebound from usage numbers during the pandemic. 

For those caring for people with special needs, the support services program is there. It guides caregivers through various applications for grants, funding, or equipment, and respite workers can render aid to caregivers when needed. 

“Caregivers and families received case management supports to navigate the many systems they encounter when caring for those with various needs. That includes coordinating over 18 funding applications, and almost 20 mentors and respite care providers. The program also includes social activities such as dances and activity nights that we were super happy to get service brought back.”

Back again is the popular summer program which provides special needs clients with activities during the summer months. In 2021, the program had 25 participants and it provided over 1500 hours of respite to family caregivers. Korte extends a heartfelt thanks to all the individuals, businesses and organizations that contributed to the success of the endeavour. 

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the incredible staff that works here,” Korte concludes. “Our office staff, our group home staff, and our programming staff are an absolutely amazing team. The board and I are extremely proud of the work they do to help some of the most vulnerable people in our region to reach their full potential.”