Finding a way to celebrate apart

Jackie Ritchie and the Closing the Gap holiday gift bags for the DS clients.
Jackie Ritchie and the Closing the Gap holiday gift bags.

WoodGreen’s Adult Development Services (APSW, SIL) builds on the independence of our clients. This philosophy of client-led programming is one of the reasons this service is so transformative. Each client works on an individual support plan.

The WoodGreen team has been constantly adapting how we deliver these services in a pandemic. For instance, many of our programs relied on in-person meetings. At the beginning of the pandemic, Telus donated tablets to help provide service to many of our clients, including adults with developmental services. Typically, access to technology is a barrier for individuals on fixed incomes. Having access to tech, a data plan and support to use the technology helped our clients stay connected and keep their virtual appointments.

This creativity was also required when it was time to rethink the popular Adult Development Services Holiday Party. For many years, Closing the Gap Healthcare sponsored the holiday party with gift bags and a holiday lunch that their staff would serve. It’s a yearly highlight for many clients as a chance to socialize and a delicious meal (usually with leftovers to take home!).

“Closing the Gap Healthcare is very pleased to collaborate with WoodGreen to create experiences that truly make a difference,” said Connie Clerici, Executive Chair of the Board at Closing the Gap Healthcare. “When looking for opportunities to help others and WoodGreen was recommended. We have supported this population to enjoy typical life experiences the rest of us may take for granted.”

As one WoodGreen staff Jackie Ritchie, SIL Worker noted, “The holiday party gives our clients the opportunity to socialize that they don’t always have with anyone else.” Mari LeBlanc, APSW shared, “It has been a constant, predictable and safe event for many years, for many of our clients, and it is very much anticipated each year.”

Of course, COVID-19 made it impossible to gather.

“The clients really missed the holiday party this year. So many clients asked about it and were disheartened to hear that it would not happen,” said  Bernadette Henderson, APSW.

With a little creativity and the incredible support of Closing the Gap, the team was able to bring the holiday spirit to clients.

“We have a great relationship with Closing the Gap Healthcare, they are phenomenal,” said Julia Chao, Director of Mental Health, Addictions and Developmental Services at WoodGreen. “They wanted to figure out a way to still be involved and support our program, so they committed to putting together enough gift bags for the clients.”

We received nearly 100 holiday gift bags from Closing the Gap Healthcare. The bags included practical items such as masks, hand sanitizer, $20 grocery card and a daily planner.

“They (the clients) were very disappointed however again, they (Closing the Gap) took the opportunity to be understanding and supportive about the situation and were so very grateful for the holiday gift bags to collect!” – Jackie Ritchie, SIL Worker

“Thank you again for Christmas gift, I really appreciate this thoughtfulness of adult support worker,” wrote one client in an email after receiving their gift.

“The food card was sooooo good. Got lots of goodies hehehe,” wrote another.

We thank Closing the Gap for working with us to bring such joy during challenging times and TELUS for helping to ensure access to services throughout the pandemic.


Our programs support individuals living with a developmental disability and their families by providing opportunities for them to participate fully in their community.

    We provide people living with developmental disabilities assistance with accessing community-based services like financial support, affordable housing, medical services and recreational activities. We also help people build important life skills such as problem solving, budgeting, making friends and solving personal issues.
    Parents of children with developmental disabilities can participate in support groups led by other parents with experience raising a child with a developmental disability.
    The Parent Outreach Program is an individualized teaching program with the goal of increasing independence for children living with a developmental disability. The program is delivered by Home Visitors who are all parents of children with a developmental disability.

WoodGreen truly appreciates the support of corporate partners. If you would like to discuss how your company can get involved with WoodGreen, please contact Kathy Koch, Director of Corporate Engagement at