May 10, 2023

Qualico Helps Non-Profit Provide Life-Changing Services

Winnipeg, MB – Qualico’s relationship with St. Amant spans back to Qualico’s second generation of leadership through Brian Hastings and his support of the organization dating back to his school-aged years. This long-standing relationship has helped provide exceptional life-changing services through the development of the Spirit Cottage and now most recently with the renovation of St. Amant's Stabilization Unit, which Qualico provided a major gift towards. The stabilization unit officially opened on April 18.

Qualico’s President and CEO, Kevin Van, also supports the organization and is part of St. Amant's Foundation board, a decision he said was driven by the experiences of those close to him.

“There are so many good causes and charities that exist in our city,” he said. “I chose to be part of the St. Amant board because a close friend had a son who lived his final years there, it was a huge support and a sense of relief for his family. My daughter also worked at St. Amant and it really had a positive impact on me when I learned about her life-changing experience working with children with autism. I felt that St. Amant was a place where I could give back – a place that clearly has a positive impact on so many individuals.”

St. Amant is a non-profit organization that offers a wide range of support for over 2,200 adults and children in Manitoba with developmental disabilities, autism, and acquired brain injury, and their families. They have over 2,000 staff members and 300 volunteers, as well as in over 70 community homes throughout Winnipeg. St. Amant also operates a school, a wide range of clinical services (physiotherapy, speech pathology, psychology, mobility clinics, etc.), and an educational program for preschool children with autism. Demand for St. Amant's services and programs continues to grow.

Over the past decade, St. Amant has been moving towards deinstitutionalization, with its official provincial designation changing from a developmental center to a short-term healthcare facility. The organization has also been working to expand the supports it provides, including increasing capacity for its pre-school and school-age autism programs, opening two community respite homes for children, and taking on case management services for 2,500 families with a child diagnosed with autism.

The work, mission, and goals that St. Amant is achieving also align well with Qualico’s own corporate responsibility initiatives.

“St. Amant Foundation’s mission of improving quality of life for people with developmental disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury is aligned with Qualico’s impact area of healthy lives,” Kevin said, “because of the type of inclusive work St. Amant is doing by bringing dignity, care, and compassion to the people they support.”

Creating a Designated Stabilization Unit

The organization’s most recent undertaking involves creating a designated stabilization unit at its existing facility, which will include one primary living unit and two step-down units. According to Juliette Mucha, Executive Director of the St. Amant Foundation, the stabilization unit, will provide immediate, temporary care for families in crisis when an individual’s behaviour becomes potentially dangerous to themselves or others. Family members can also work with healthcare experts to support the next best steps for the individual’s ongoing care.

Juliette said the new stabilization unit helps St. Amant continues to work towards its core values of CHER (collaboration, hospitality, excellence, and respect).

“There is an unmet need in our community of providing immediate stabilization services to families who are in crisis,” Juliette said. “We’ve been able to provide this important program to support families, but in a makeshift area.”

Qualico’s donation to St. Amant Foundation was part of the $4 million fundraising campaign for the stabilization unit. One of the units bears Qualico’s name to recognize the company’s generosity. The funds from the campaign have allowed St. Amant to renovate part of its building to create new units that have bedrooms, accessible bathrooms, overhead lifts, multipurpose rooms (for crafts, rehab services, music therapy, etc.), family rooms with TVs and games, and a deck that opens up to the John & Bonnie Buhler Reflection Gardens.

“The new stabilization unit was built to help deliver dignity, compassion, and humanity to those it serves, which are part of St. Amant's core values,” Kevin said. “We are proud to support the development of this project and what it stands for providing safe stabilization for families who are in need.”

There are some similar programs in Canada and the US, and Juliette noted that St. Amant researched best practices and has incorporated that information within the construction of the new stabilization unit. St. Amant also has its own research center, which provides appropriate evaluation and research data to ensure the organization is always offering evidence-based, cutting-edge programming and services.

Major Project Hits 10-Year Milestone This Year

One of St. Amant's past major projects for which Qualico provided support was the construction of the St. Amant Spirit Cottage by Qualico & Hans Kraus Family – a 2,400-sq.ft. cottage adjacent to St. Amant on the banks of the Red River in south Winnipeg that’s used to provide an accessible getaway for all people supported by St. Amant and their families. Qualico was one of the major gift donors in 2013 that contributed towards the $1-million project, which officially opened in 2014 and has seen incredible demand ever since.

The four-season cottage has a continuous waitlist for individuals who want to celebrate special occasions such as Christmas and New Years. It also serves as a special place to celebrate birthdays and other milestones, or to just kick back and relax while enjoying nature and outdoor recreational activities.

The three-bedroom cottage is equipped with overhead lifts, a wheelchair ramp, extra-wide doorways, and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs, an accessible bathroom and shower room, an in-ground outdoor pool with a pool house, a fire pit, and plenty of decking.

It also became an incredibly important space during the pandemic, Juliette noted.

“When we had individuals and community homes that tested positive for COVID, to be respectful and to try to do our part in the community during the pandemic, those who tested positive were brought to the Spirit Cottage so they could get better,” she said. “This ensured their roommates stayed safe, as well as individuals who were in the other living units.”

The cottage also allowed family members to see their loved one when they needed palliative care support during the pandemic and provided them a space to be there for their loved one’s final moments.

 Strategic Planning Year Ahead

According to Juliette, next year will be a strategic planning year for St. Amant, which she said is exciting because the team gets to go out and engage with the organization’s stakeholders to hear about their needs and wants. This input, coupled with the support provided by companies like Qualico, will allow St. Amant to continue improving and expanding its service and program offerings.

“Qualico is very well known for its philanthropy and commitment to giving back to the community, and I’d like to thank them for their continued support of St. Amant.”


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