Building Communities in Partnership with ASK Wellness Society
ASK Wellness Society (ASK), a Kamloops-based organization, has been a leading name in the community for the initiatives it takes to serve all in the community who struggle with their housing, health, or employment needs. ASK and ARPA Investments (ARPA) share a special relationship in that they are not only collaborative community partners but are also neighbours in their buildings on the North Shore.
Bob Hughes, CEO of the society, noted, “The teams at ARPA and ASK work collectively and support each other, as well as the community. This partnership and its accompanying relationship have been developed and strengthened through transparency, mutual respect, and honest communication.”
The most recent addition to the community from ASK, with support from ARPA, was The Stollery Suites on Spirit Square, a 43-unit affordable housing unit for seniors 55 and older, which has now been serving the community of Kamloops since 2020.
“The Stollery Suites have been a vital addition to affordable housing for seniors in the city of Kamloops, and particularly on the North Shore,” said Hughes. “ARPA’s role in Stollery Suites, as the contracted developer, was vital to the completion of the project. With ARPA’s planning and persistence, the project was able to be completed on time and within budget.”
Currently, there are 43 residents living in the Stollery Suites. This includes 27 affordable market units for senior residents and 16 program units that provide additional support services. Today, the suites are all occupied, with a 0 per cent vacancy rate, showing how crucial this project has been for Kamloops.
“There is a waitlist available, as these units are highly sought after for seniors in the Kamloops community. This visible demand showcases how the suites are currently addressing Kamloops’ housing needs by providing safe, affordable housing options for individuals in need,” noted Hughes.
According to Hughes, various forms of affordable housing across demographics continue to be essential and in demand across the city of Kamloops.
“It was important for ASK to be part of this specific project, as it has allowed us to expand the housing options we provide on the North Shore, for both residents and program participants. ASK also leases the main floor of the Stollery building for commercial office space for our administrative teams. The ability to have our commercial spaces linked directly to program units allows for efficient support and response,” said Hughes.
Together, ARPA and ASK share in prioritizing the value of building community. Like ARPA, ASK is committed to the betterment of the communities they serve. For ARPA, this is based on the locations of their developments; whereas for ASK, this is based on the communities where they provide services, remarked Hughes.
“ARPA’s mission is to be a catalyst in developing and building innovative, creative, and beautiful spaces that build community and bring neighbourhoods to life. At ASK, we are also looking to be an innovative catalyst for positive social change. In fact, we have recently added ‘Innovation’ as a fifth guiding principle to our organization. We aim to respond to emerging community needs in innovative ways. We embrace new approaches to complex issues and strive to learn as an organization in order to remain relevant in our communities,” said Hughes.
The vision of the ASK, said Hughes, is to work towards a society that recognizes the value and potential of each individual.
“We work each and every day toward our mission of providing outreach, housing, health, education, employment, and emotional support services for marginalized and persons at risk,” added Hughes.
The support services provided by ASK tailored to the Kamloops community include housing support, rent supplements, crisis funding, health navigation for those living with complex health needs, public health education and training which includes naloxone training, harm reduction initiatives, life skills for those with diverse abilities, mental health supports, and recovery supports.
“Our Maverick Supportive Recovery and Career Development Program, which opened in the summer of 2021, is a recent addition to the current range of recovery options in the community,” said Hughes.
“We hope that other businesses are aware of our viewpoint on community collaboration and the importance we place on being a good neighbour. This work allows barriered individuals and seniors to be and feel supported within the community that they call home.”