Turning Points Collaborative Society staff was applauded by executive director Randene Wejr after going above and beyond the call of duty following an electrical fire at the emergency response centre on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (Contributed)

Turning Points Collaborative Society staff was applauded by executive director Randene Wejr after going above and beyond the call of duty following an electrical fire at the emergency response centre on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (Contributed)

LETTER: Turning Points director applauds staff after electrical fire in Vernon

‘Our staff went above and beyond for our clients… but this is nothing new,’ says executive director

A lot of what we do at Turning Points Collaborative Society flies under the radar, mostly unnoticed by the greater public. For those who are not aware, we work closely with folks in our community who would be considered our most vulnerable citizens. We offer a continuum of care that ranges from services and programs for people experiencing homelessness to addiction treatment and sober living facilities as well as employment services.

Our organization’s vision is to build community by strengthening people.

As you can imagine, it takes an incredibly special person to dedicate themselves to this kind of work.

That is what I am writing about today: our people.

As some of you may have read in the local media, we had a small, electrical fire at our Emergency Response Centre (ERC) on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 18).

The fire was quickly extinguished, and the damage was contained to a restricted staff area; but more importantly, all our clients and staff were calmly evacuated from the site without injury.

Sadly, the fire resulted in a temporary displacement of clients staying at the ERC.

And this brings me to my point: Our staff are truly unsung heroes in this community.

Not only for the way they handled this potentially disastrous situation but also in the way they cared for the clients and each other in the moments, hours and days after this unforeseen event.

As our clients stood in the rain, watching firefighters enter the building, uncertain of what was going on, uncertain of how this situation was going to unfold, our staff continued to provide them with care and attention — doing their best to reassure our clients, and themselves, that it will all be OK.

As the minutes ticked away and word began to spread, more staff showed up to help.

These are our employees who were not on the clock; our employees, who would have been otherwise enjoying a Sunday evening with their families.

They came with food, blankets, jackets, shoes. They collected items from their own closets and cupboards for our clients. They came not because they had to, they came because they wanted to.

The staff who were scheduled, and the staff that arrived to help, worked into the wee hours of the morning, providing comfort and care to our clients. They provided them with the dignity and respect befitting any member of our community who has been displaced from their home.

I am so incredibly proud of our team.

Our staff went above and beyond for our clients Sunday night, but this is nothing new.

Randene Wejr, Executive Director, Turning Points Collaborative Society

READ MORE: Halloween fireworks curbed in all but two North Okanagan communities

READ MORE: Vernon shelter residents find refuge in hotels, motels, recreation complex after fire

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