Meet our Team Leaders: Gil Allen

On May 20th, 2014, Gil Allen took over the position of Team Leader for Comprehensive Care, and officially became the DDRC’s newest team leader. Although it’s only been a few weeks, he was happy to share his thoughts with us, as well why he decided to jump in to this new position!

Comp Care Team Leader Gil Allen
Comp Care Team Leader Gil Allen

How long have you been with the DDRC?
Just a couple months short of a year. I started last August as a CRW (Community Resource Worker) for the PACE Team, and officially took over as team leader for Comprehensive Care on May 20th of this year.

What made you want to work here?
A couple of different things. I went to school to study disability theory; I’m heavily interested in the academic side of it. From a more personal side, I have a very close cousin who is a client with the Calgary SCOPE Society, so I have been interested in disability services for most of my life.

Why did you want to become a Team Leader?
I wanted to have more of an impact for more people. As a CRW, I was only able to support two to four people at a time. As a team leader, I hope to be able to help a lot more.

Can you share a recent client success story for the Comprehensive Care?
Matching a client who has been long looking for a worker with someone. It really made his and his dad’s days.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would that be?
One food for the rest of my life… that’s hard. I’ll have to go with Saskatoon berries. I spent a couple of summers working on a Saskatoon berry farm and they were some of my favourite times, so the berries (on their own, in syrup, or in baked goods) remind me of that.

Meet Our Team Leaders: Charmaine Wong

Since 1996, the DDRC’s PACE program has been supporting young adults as they transition from high school into the working world. Team Leader Charmaine Wong gave us the inside scoop on what it’s like working with the PACE team, and how she came to work at the DDRC.

PACE Team Leader Charmaine Wong
PACE Team Leader Charmaine Wong

How long have you been with the DDRC?
Just over three years. I started in March 2011 as a CRW [Community Resource Worker] for the South Team. In June of 2012, I became the South Team Leader, and one year later, in June 2013, I became the PACE Team Leader!

What made you want to work here?
I used to work with kids at an after school program, teaching life skills. But the hours didn’t really work for me, so I started looking elsewhere. I studied psychology, and I always had a sense of wanting to help people in the community. I came across the DDRC job posting and thought I’d give it a try without
quite knowing what it really was. The interview went really well, and now I’m here!

What is the best part of being a Team Leader?
I think the best part is seeing the team be recognized by others, and seeing their positive energy and attitude infect the whole agency. I can’t take credit for it; the whole PACE Team makes me very proud.

Can you share a recent client success story for the PACE Team?
One of our clients is graduating from the Professional Cooking Program at SAIT. It’s a two year program, and we’ve been doing a lot of side-by-side support: taking notes in class, creating study plans with him, and talking to his professors. We helped him get a practicum experience and now he’s graduating. The team put in a lot of hard work.

If you could have any question answered, in the world, what would it be?
That’s a hard question! If I had the power to know the answer to any question, I guess it would be “how can I best motivate our team to have the best successes they can?” 


Meet Our Team Leaders: Selma Gearhart

Last edition, we were introduced to North East Team Leader Cassandra Therens. Now’s your chance to learn more about the Central Team Leader, Selma Gearhart, and how she came to work at the DDRC!

Central Team Leader
     Selma Gearhart

How long have you been with the DDRC?
Just over five years. When I first came in to the DDRC I worked as a Community Resource Worker on the relief team (a team that would support clients on a number of different teams when employees were sick). I worked in every area of the city for about 6 or 7 months. Then I joined the West Central Team, and after that I worked on the PACE team. From the PACE team, I became a Team Leader. I’ve been all over the agency!

What made you want to work here?
I worked in retail with the Hudson’s Bay Company for a long time. After 22 years I left the Bay, and took a year off. I decided I would take a different career path, and my mother in Newfoundland had a developmental disability. I looked into different agencies, and put my resume into the DDRC, as it was very intriguing to me. It was really exciting!

I love working here. The management team is great. Everyday is different and new, and I always look forward to coming in to work.

What is the best part of being a Team Leader?
Seeing the successes that the clients celebrate, working on their goals, and seeing them being successful in their employment and in their communities. Also, working with a team. We’ve worked very hard over the past two years and have been through a lot of changes; I have a really great team.

Can you share a recent client success story for the Central Team?
A client was laid off from their job, but is now successful at the Marriott hotel, making a great wage. Gibsons also employs one of our clients, and they offered to fund a new communication device for her! Every day brings a success. 

Do you have any special skills?
I love singing!  I also have a parrot named Max. Actually, we just got some DNA back from Florida and found out that we should have been calling her Maxine! We’re currently looking at purchasing a male, and then we will start breeding the parrots.


Meet Our Team Leaders: Cassandra Therens

The DDRC’s Career and Leisure Services (CLS) program provides part-time and full-time support to adults with developmental disabilities in their home communities. Each CLS client belongs to a community team, determined the area of the city that they live in. Clients are paired up with a Community Resource Worker who assists them to reach their goals and live inclusively in a number of ways:

  • teaching them how to find and apply for the jobs they want,
  • supporting them during paid or unpaid work experiences and during paid employment when required,
  • assisting them to find and access inclusive educational courses in the community,
  • assisting with volunteer opportunities to contribute to their communities, or
  • supporting clients to attend inclusive leisure activities in their communities to build relationships with community members and neighbours, maintaining or increasing a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Currently, there are 4 community teams stationed in different parts of the city: Northwest, Northeast, Central, and South. Behind each of these teams is a Team Leader: a DDRC employee who is responsible for overseeing client safety, ensuring that client goals are met, and managing the team of front-line staff who work one-on-one with our clients.

We thought it was time that you get to know the individuals behind the teams; here’s a short Q&A with Northeast Team Leader, Cassandra Therens.

NE Team Leader Cassandra Therens
NE Team Leader Cassandra Therens

How long have you been with the DDRC?
One year and eight months.

What made you want to work here?
Well, when I decided that I was going to look for new employment, I knew I didn’t want to work just anywhere. I did my research on the agencies here in Calgary, and the DDRC’s core values are similar to my own so it seemed like a great fit, and it has been!

What is the best part of being a Team Leader?
The best part is definitely being able to watch our clients succeed and reach their goals.

Can you share a recent client success story for the Northeast Team?
We’ve recently had 2 clients obtain volunteer placements at Funny Fest!

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what’s the first thing you would do?
Buy a house in the country.

Northeast Team Leader Cassandra Therens (left) volunteering at the 2013 Vipond Charity Golf Tournament.