Totem poles to mark group’s 50th anniversary
Two totem poles will be officially unveiled on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of a Red Deer organization that provides community services for people with developmental disabilities.
More than 400 people are expected to attend the event at Parkland Community Living and Supports Society (Parkland CLASS) at 6010 45th Ave.
The location is just north of River Glen School in Red Deer. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the official program starting at 1 p.m.
Phil Stephan, chief executive officer of the society, says the event will celebrate the an organization that started with six families who came together to provide education for children with special needs.
Over the next 25 years, the organization evolved to provide advocacy, respite care for families, and in-home support.
By 1988, the group had 45 staff and provided services to 42 families.
After 1988, the organization became involved in supporting de-institutionalization of adults with developmental disabilities. In the following 20 years, Parkland CLASS constructed more than 25 community group homes in Red Deer and area.
Today, the society is one of the largest providers of special needs accessible housing in Alberta.
The organization supports more than 40 community group homes for adults and children and delivers a variety of community-based programs, family support, independent living support, recreation and social activities and respite care.
While the majority of its services are delivered in Central Alberta, the organization has expanded to provide support and outreach training to the western Arctic. On an international scale, it has partnerships in Argentina, Peru and Mexico.
More than 600 staff and foster caregivers provide support to more than 450 adults, children and families.
Stephan says the 10-metre-high totem poles to be unveiled on Saturday are “incredible works of art.”
One of the totem poles tells the history of the organization in painted carvings. The second totem pole depicts wildlife and nature scenes.
Sharon Grimshire will be a special guest at the unveiling.
A staff member for more than 30 years, she is the daughter of one of the organization’s founders and her sister received services from Parkland CLASS for more than 50 years, said Stephan.