Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Leave a comment

Family Support and Advocacy at DDA? What’s that all about?


Terry Schenkel


Many families are aware of the Family Support and Advocacy program offered by the Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) but there are some who have no idea we exist or what the program offers.

However, once the family gets connected with a family support worker and realize there are available resources for their child, their usual reaction is, “If I had connected with you even earlier, our journey would be much easier. Thank you so much!”

So, how and when would a family member benefit from the Family Support and Advocacy program?

  • At times of transition in their child’s life like preschool to kindergarten, elementary to high school, high school to college. Sandy was thankful for family support during the transition of her young son with severe autism from private school to public school. We helped her to connect with professionals at the Vancouver School Board (VSB), accompanied her to meetings at the school, and made sure that her concerns were heard.
  • When they need to advocate for services or financial assistance. Janet asked for help advocating for more support for her son with autism at school. She was referred to the right people at the VSB and we helped her to write a request to them. We supported her to be a strong advocate for her son. She feels proud of herself for what she is doing for her child.
  • When they need to understand the school system, Community Living British Columbia, Ministry of Children and Family Development and Vancouver Coastal Health. Sam was relieved when we informed him that he is going to be involved in his daughter’s Individual Educational Plan team. We gave support by accompanying him to IEP meetings.
  • Connecting them to other community support services for day-to-day needs. Linda was concerned about her six-year-old daughter’s development and wondered about a possible diagnosis of autism. The family support worker referred her to Sunny Hill team for diagnostic assessment.
  • When they want to connect with another family who understands what they are experiencing. Jill was thankful that we connected her with another mom who has a child with an intellectual disability and comes from the same region in the Middle East. Being an immigrant with the same language and culture and having a child with special needs was a few things the two of them have in common.
  • When they want to suggest a workshop or speaker or learn about upcoming workshops. Parents at the Bollywood Maza parent support group were concerned with the transition of their children to high school, so we invited a special needs transition consultant and a resource teacher from the VSB to the parents’ group. The parents had an opportunity to ask questions and get first-hand information.
  • When they feel alone or unheard in their efforts to advocate for their child. Jane has been a strong advocate for her young son with an intellectual disability. But dealing with mental health issues herself, there are times when she feels overwhelmed. During these times she would sort out the conflicting priorities with us because she feels that we hear and support her without judgement.
  • Parent-to-Parent Support and Information groups in Vancouver and Richmond. “This is the only place that I don’t need to worry if my son (who has autism) is loud or is running in a circle … This is my break”, says one of our Vietnamese Family Support Group moms.
  • Respitality Program. Parents who are members of DDA and whose children receive our services may enjoy a complimentary overnight stay at a local hotel. All they need to do is to organize care for their children for the night.

DDA’s Family Support and Advocacy service is free and no referral is needed. Just pick up the phone and dial 604-301-2831 for Michael, who supports families with children, or 604-233-5433 for Terry, who supports families with youth and adults.

The Developmental Disabilities Association is a nonprofit organization that began in 1952. Today, DDA offers more than 50 programs that support infants, children and adults diagnosed with a developmental disability and their families. DDA has a team located at at Kaslo Street and East 18th Avenue in the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood. Their Infant Development Program, children’s and adult respite program, Youth in Transition, Family Support and Advocacy and host family program are located here.

Terry Schenkel is the assistant director of family support services at the Developmental Disabilities Association.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

Leave a comment

Renfrew-Collingwood Heritage: Earles Road Substation



Once again, we dive into Renfrew-Collingwood’s rich history to find these then-and-now photos of Earles Road Substation.

Built in 1912 and designed by architect Robert Lyon, the Earles Road Substation provided electrical service to the Central Park Line of the BC Electric Railway. This line linked downtown Vancouver to New Westminster and continued in operation until 1953.

For 35 or so years, the substation was boarded up until 1989 when the building was turned into a condominium by architect Linda Baker. Seeing potential in the old station, Linda and her team would turn the substation into 12 housing units of between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. A three-story wood frame structure was built within the substation’s concrete shell to avoid any contaminates and the exterior received new balconies, windows and entrances.

The result transformed the then ugly, abandoned building into the beautiful neighbourhood landmark that it still is today.

If you have some old photographs, stories or memorobilia that you would like to share with our community, please contact the Renfrew-Collingwood Heritage Committee at 604-435-0323 or email

Working with advice from the Vancouver Archives and the Museum of Vancouver, the committee enables the residents and former residents of Renfrew-Collingwood to submit
items for inclusion in a Renfrew-Collingwood historical collection.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

Leave a comment

Collingwood Neighbourhood House says goodbye to devoted volunteer A.J. Wadden


Photo by Sandra Wadden


Adrian Joseph (A.J.) Wadden was one of the longest-serving volunteers of Collingwood Neighbourhood House’s Morning Star breakfast program (for people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness).

A.J. volunteered with us for more than 10 years. He would arrive in the wee hours of the morning to help set up tables and chairs and whatever else needed doing. His assistance was important to us and we appreciated his sense of humour and efforts.

A.J. had a 25-year career as a longshoreman, 10 years as a member of the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 500, retiring last year. He had a life-long love of sports and was an avid cyclist and ice skater.

“Everyone on the Morning Star team looked up to A.J.,” said Bill McMichael, another of our original Morning Star volunteers. “For over 10 years, he would arrive with the early shift to set up the multipurpose room for a group of 70, doing the work three volunteers took to take down three hours later. No one has ever worked harder or better or smarter than A.J. And still, he remained a gentle and generous man, whose smile brightened the kitchen on even our darkest and rainiest of mornings. He was the best of us.”

Terry Taylor, another of our originals, said: “I would sit with A.J. and chat after the set up was ready for the breakfast program. We talked about life and other things. He was always very respectful and courteous to others. He was a soft-spoken man with a delightful sense of humour. I will always remember those chats with great fondness.”

A celebration of life service was held for A.J. at the Sunrise Community Centre on Sunday, September 11. The room was filled with Morning Star volunteers, longshore workmates, friends and family and members of his church. Pastor Elsie Quick, Pastor Ernie Culley and A.J.’s wife Sandra spoke about A.J.’s life.

A.J. is survived by his wife Sandra and siblings Marguerite, James, Carl and Vera. The family has asked in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the B.C. Cancer Agency or the Vancouver Hospital Palliative Care Unit in A.J.’smemory.