We are proud to share the meaningful and transformative difference we’ve made in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their communities.
At Reena, our mission goes beyond words; it’s about actions, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to promoting dignity, independence, and inclusion. Join us on this journey as we highlight the real stories, outcomes, and lasting impact that define our organization’s purpose and vision.
You took him in when nobody else cared
“This past year, you took in our son and gave him a home. You took him in when nobody else cared. From the age of a small child, he was picked on, taunted, humiliated and some times, physically abused. Employers often took advantage of him, promised him a future and then discarded him without notice and some times, withholding his pay. He looks like a normal guy however; he suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. His life has been a constant struggle trying to find a place where he could fit in.
His dream world and reality kept getting mixed up and would surface as his tormented and lonely soul would cry out for some kind of acceptance. Eventually, after various times spent in men’s shelters, he left home. The only affordable accommodation was a dingy basement room in a cheap rooming house. A friendless and lonely existence.
The sun shone into all of our lives the day that he was invited to participate in an interview with the good people of Reena. His life has completely changed. You gave our son his life. You gave him friends as well as a community that accepts him without reservation. You have changed the lives of our family and no token of gratitude would be sufficient to compensate for what you have done. For many people, the world is a lonely and difficult struggle, but God has provided for a few of them by placing people such as The Reena Foundation to work his miracles on the streets of Canada’s busiest city. Long may you continue. Your work is so necessary and vitally important.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”
– Reena Family Member
Most importantly, it gave him the independent life skills
On February 18, 2016 Leo Baeck Day School ran a Bingo Night in support of Reena Foundation, where board games and art supplies were collected. We would like to thank everyone who donated an item and Leo Baeck for coordinating the evening.
The Lead Librarian at the school is a Reena Family Member who was invited to call out numbers with her brother, where she shared a few words about what Reena means to them.
“Reena was fundamental in a few things for my brother and our family: it provided my parents with a community of support, it provided Norman with a community of like minded individuals. But most importantly, it gave him the independent life skills that he needed to become a part of the broader community and the world. The fact that he learned to take the bus, bank, shop and live independently also allowed him to contribute positively to society. Reena changed all of our lives. When Norman was born in 1962, the doctor told my parents that he would not live past 30. He is now 53!”
– Reena Family Member
To thank Leo Baeck for running the Bingo Night, Reena Foundation presented the Parents Association with artwork made by an individual supported by Reena.
I feel more free now and find myself excited about the future
“My name is Chris. I have a hereditary genetic disease that does not get better. Until recently, I lived at home with my family. In 2015, I moved into the Reena Community Residence. I firmly believe that people should not be afraid to talk about their disability. I’m not afraid to talk about mine because I hope it will open people’s eyes a little bit and make the world a better place. I always want to tell other people, “You are the person you are and the main thing is to be happy with yourself. When you get mad, don’t get mad at your disability because it won’t change. Accept who you are. Be happy living the best life you can and don’t be afraid to show your true self. After all, what matters is what’s inside, not outside! The most important things are having a good heart, respect and how you treat people.”
Since moving to the Reena building, my life has changed a lot. I have met so many other people and made lasting friends who inspire me to live each day to the fullest. All the staff are great and have been helpful in their own way. Being a part of Reena has really opened my eyes. Now, I know I am not alone fighting this battle, there are other people with me. I can see that challenges are not limited to me, everyone has their own portion to deal with: some more, some less.
I feel more free now and find myself excited about the future. Being a part of Reena has opened new doors and given me new opportunities for my life. Recently, I joined the Channels program and I have been able to try many new things. I love animals and so my favourite part of the program has been volunteering at Vaughn Animal Services. I feel a sense of happiness when I see and interact with the animals.
Ultimately, it is my goal to inspire people through my story. I want to help others see things the way I do; that so many problems and worries are not important. Time is ticking, none of us know how much time we have left. So make the very best of each moment! Don’t be afraid of what other people think, be who you are. Act like no one is watching and enjoy your life!”
Camp Reena is the best!
“I have been coming to Camp Reena for the last three years. At camp, I love spending time with my counsellors, volunteers and my friends. We have a lot of fun together. I always feel happy and supported.
Some of my favourite things to do at camp are going to water parks, playing basketball, karaoke and swimming. One of my favorite things to do is sing with everyone on the long bus rides we go on! This summer I tried a lot of fun new activities including: canoeing, playing on an inflatable waterpark, cliff jumping and so much more! I have made many friends who have encouraged me to try new things. I feel grateful to be a part of such an awesome group. Camp Reena is the best!”
– Camp attendee
I am lucky to have found a a place where I wake up and get to work with such amazing human beings
So what was it about Reena in a particular that made me make a volunteer position into my career?
Reena is an agency that made me feel welcome and they always provided me with the opportunity to grow and learn. I have been able to take many onsite training courses as I work.
Then there were the people that I met along my journey. The individuals I worked with were vulnerable, they were at times seen as a burden to society, and were viewed by many as not being able to achieve much. Reena, however, taught me the complete opposite, and the individuals themselves showed me they were strong, smart and ready to take on the world! All they needed was a voice, an individual to act as an advocate to to assist them in showing the world what they could achieve. I felt honoured to be able to act as that person. That feeling of fulfilment I got when an individual who had never been on a ride at an amusement park, because they were told it was not accessible to individuals in wheelchairs, got on the ride with the help of myself and two other staff, was one of my proudest moments. Hearing from an individual, thanking me for assisting them in fulfilling their dream of finding paid employment is a feeling of pride I would never have had in another job.
My positions at Reena have completely changed my perception on the role of Direct Support Professionals, which at times I feel is seen as care-giving. The individuals I have met throughout my career (and I say career because it has been more that just a job, it has been a place where I have been able to learn and grow), have taught me to be stronger, compassionate and resilient. I am lucky to have found a a place where I wake up and get to work with such amazing human beings.”
– Tamara, Part-Time Direct Support Professional at Reena