Early in my career I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with a close friend and colleague in starting a therapeutic services business. My friend’s name is ‘Shari’ and she was one of my greatest mentors as a Child and Youth Worker. Back in those days, we worked with children in the foster and adoptive care system doing mostly play-based work. It was a brilliant time in my career and the name of the business was ‘Branching Out Therapeutic Services.’ We worked on this model until life lead me in a different direction. I was devastated when Shari died a few years later….it left a gaping hole in my heart as well as in the community.
Two years ago, I was given the opportunity of a new challenge. At first the change in my circumstance was terrifying – I had been pulled away from a career that I loved – with so much still left to be accomplished. I had at that moment “free-time” … time to really think about what I wanted to do with my life, time to heal, time to forgive and most importantly, time to dream. That’s when an idea started to grow, it sprung from a memory of friendship and encouraged me to act. My memories of Shari were my inspiration and gave me courage to ‘go for it.’
The name ‘Branching Out’ was re-imaged with a slight change and a powerful acronym. The name represents the power of a strong, resourceful, brave, and creative woman who taught me the truth about so many things. ‘Branching Out Support Services’ was born from passion, hope, and some incredibly supportive people. In two years, BOSS has created an employment roster of over fifteen people, seventeen families involved in Day Service, over twenty families involved in Respite and 1:1 support. More people have been involved in Choice programming, virtual events, and social events. We are volunteering for six community organizations, we have a multitude of community partners, and have two active locations in downtown Orangeville. BOSS is a collaborative partner in the Canadian Accessibility Network (a national think tank out of Carleton University). We also run a monthly Community of Practice for over ten support professionals from across our field and are thrilled to have a community mural mounted on our building. BOSS have won multiple local awards, in a variety of nominations of which we are proud. Our programs are growing steadily, allowing us to host students from colleges and universities. We remain excited about new opportunities, partnerships, and designs.
Moving forward into year three our theme is GROWING WITH GRATITUDE. This means that we do not take anything for granted, that we acknowledge our privilege and the support of our community. We recognize that many small businesses might not be able to celebrate anniversaries due to the hardship and devastation of the pandemic and so from a place of love, we send hope to those who continue to struggle. To all of you who have walked this road since the beginning with us – we salute you and thank you. If you are new to BOSS, we welcome you with joy and energy. Our participants remain the incentive to reach our branches upwards into the world to create change and our families and caregivers allow us to root down deep in values, communication, and solidarity.
As we move forward into the unknown, we do it with gratitude. A perspective that allows all of us, even in the depth of challenges to see the truth.