SUBMITTED BY GIFTS
The Gulf Islands Families Together Society (GIFTS) is celebrating 25 years of community inclusion and everyone is invited to the birthday festivities.
On Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m., we will be hosting an open house, enjoying cake and previewing our silent auction event called Art 2 Art.
Our birthday was the year 1998, when families and advocates of children with diverse abilities came together to look to the future of their teenage loved ones. Opportunities for social integration, employment and recreation were limited at the time. The group embarked upon a journey focused on providing personalized circles of support and founded GIFTS. A generous community member purchased and renovated the building at 152 McPhillips Ave. where the youth could meet, work, learn and play. An innovative partnership with School District 64 began in the year 2000. The first of its kind and a model for other school districts across North America, the Transition Program supported graduating students in accessing appropriate community-based job placements, volunteer positions and socio-recreational activities.
Over the last quarter century, GIFTS has witnessed both the generosity and the willingness of our island community to welcome people of all abilities into its fold. Our participants are working, volunteering and recreating. More recently, donations from the Elliott family, an anonymous donor and the Aqueduct Foundation allowed GIFTS to purchase and renovate the property, which was integral to our growth.
As GIFTS plans for the next quarter century, we are once again looking to the future and to the community. We envision an engaged and active non-profit model where people with diverse abilities can imagine and create their individual life plan while being fully supported in achieving their goals, where supports align with changing needs and flexibility is foundational and where participants can grow an ever-increasing circle of support.
This is why we are inviting the community to be an integral part of this exciting planning and outreach process by attending the open house on Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m., which will be followed by the society’s annual general meeting at 7:15 p.m.