Pure joy

SaskAbilities staff react to the surprise announcement on Sept. 20 that the organization is the recipient of the Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce Member Business of the Year award. From left to right, Jayda Watson (SaskAbilities program manager), Kimi Duzan (SaskAbilities regional director), Karla Wiens (Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce CEO), and Candace Toma (SaskAbilities community relations coordinator).

SaskAbilities Swift Current is the recipient of the Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce Member Business of the Year award.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Karla Wiens made the announcement during a surprise visit to the SaskAbilities office, Sept. 20.

SaskAbilities Regional Director Kimi Duzan expressed gratitude for the recognition of the organization's work in the community.

“We have a wonderful team, we have a wonderful community,” she said. “We make a difference and I'm so grateful when that's recognized, because this community makes a difference. People of all abilities are welcome, and that's the cool thing about Swift Current.”

The winner of this award is selected by the chamber's board of directors. Various criteria are considered, including the organization’s years of operation in the community, how they have grown in the community, but also their contribution to the community. SaskAbilities was considered to fit these criteria perfectly.

Wiens noted that SaskAbilities works to make the community inclusive, and the organization promotes volunteerism through the activities of their clients and staff.

“SaskAbilities is everywhere at every event volunteering, helping,” she said. “They welcome people to their facility here, with SARCAN and with Partners in Employment as well. This is a long-standing cornerstone of Swift Current that definitely deserves recognition. … They strive for inclusion of people with all disabilities, whether they’re visible or not, and sometimes you don’t know if someone is struggling. They really welcome everyone and encourage everyone else in our community to welcome everyone.”

According to Wiens the Member Business of the Year award is significant recognition to recipients for various reasons.

“Those names have been put forth by your peers and your colleagues and community members, and discussed and voted on,” she said. “So it’s a huge recognition by not just the Chamber, but the community as well for the wonderful things that you’re doing in your business and in our community.”

Duzan was visibly touched by the surprise announcement, which happened when she arrived at the office after connecting with a community partner.

“I’m really without words, and I’m struggling to find the words that express the gratitude and appreciation I feel that reflects the energy and the focus of our team in making a difference,” she said. “I dwell among superheroes every day. Staff, community members, people with disabilities themselves and parents, and employers and others that make such a difference, that make the community somewhere where kindness matters, where goodness matters, where that human connection is not overlooked. And I think this is the perfect place for an organization like SaskAbilities to do their best work, and it’s only because of that that we have that opportunity.”

The work of the SaskAbilities team reaches into all aspects of the community through services such as accessible transit, recycling, and helping employers to find valuable employees. While it is a not-for-profit organization, there is a businesslike approach to their work in the community.

“I’ve been a member of a chamber of commerce in different communities since the 1990s, and I have always felt what community-based organizations like SaskAbilities bring is business,” she said. “It is the heart of the community. It is the inspiration to do better. It’s the opportunity. We’re an employer ourselves. We have an opportunity to create and gather funds and support programs and services.”

This award serves as recognition of the efforts in recent years by the SaskAbilities Swift Current branch to increase awareness in the community about their activities.

“I’m getting feedback from people that the profile has continued to grow and be elevated, understanding more so of the work that we do and the opportunities that we create, and I’m pleased to hear that,” she said. “Part of my goal coming here was to engage the team, engage the staff, the individuals we serve and their families to say ‘Hey, what can we be? What does great look like?’ As a collective we are very powerful in any group, and so that is a very cool thing to have that opportunity.”

The formal presentation of the Member Business of the Year award to SaskAbilities will take place at the SCBEX Spirit of Swift Current Business Excellence award gala at the Living Sky Casino event centre, Oct. 25.

Those finalists vying for the 21st annual SCBEXT awards were officially named at a ceremony Sept. 24.

Start-up Business: Badlands Coffee: Little Somethings Boutique; 2% Realty.

Citizen of the Year: Devon Oman; Stephanie Prpik-Boss; Robin Wall.

Home Based Business: Brandon Wiebe Graphic Design; The Landing Studio; Garden of Eden Greenhouse and Gift.

Employer of Person(s) with Disabilities: Pioneer Co-op; Imagine Early Learning Centre; Boston Pizza. 

Not-for-profit: The Centre (SCCYI); Southwest Crisis Services; Partner in Employment.

Small Business: Wine Creek; Brenda Bridle Medical Aesthetician; Swift Shoe.

Medium Business: Linn’s Hair Shop; Buffalo Brew Pub; NuWest Interiors.

Large Business: SWT; Fountain Tire; B&A Petroleum.

Hall of Fame Inductee: Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation.

Member Business of the Year: SaskAbilities.

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