“I always wanted to be in a helping profession. It didn’t matter what it was going to be,” says Truly Berge, facilitator in CLBC’s Dawson Creek office. “It was just always in my nature to want to support people. In every aspect of my life, I just really enjoy doing that.”
Truly has worked with CLBC for 10 years, originally in the Fort St. John satellite office before moving to her current role in her home community of Dawson Creek. While working on her degree, Truly completed a practicum placement with the Kamloops Association for Community Living.
“That’s when I fell in love with doing this work and supporting people with developmental disabilities,” she says.
For Truly, the most important measure of her success as a CLBC facilitator is how much she can help others to reach their own personal goals.
“That’s my favourite part of this role, working directly with people and supporting them with what their dreams are and seeing them accomplish things that they never thought they would be able to,” she says. “Seeing people succeed is my number one goal.”
As the sole facilitator in an office that serves not only Dawson Creek, but also many of the surrounding communities including Hudson Hope, Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge, Truly is often travelling around to meet directly with the individuals and families CLBC supports in the area. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m very much a people person,” she says, “So I like the face-to-face contact. I like to see people and shake their hands. We also have a very open-door feeling in the local office. People always just drop by and check in to find out what’s going on.”
The importance of building strong relationships applies to not only the individuals and families that CLBC supports, but also many other partners and stakeholders in community, which include the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, the local health authority, the RCMP, friendship centres, and family and parent support groups. “I really have a passion for that part of the work, for networking with community members and organizations and building those key relationships. At the end of the day, we need those connections to be successful with supporting people.”
These relationships are important when crises arise, such as when people are facing unsafe circumstances. Legislation gives CLBC adult guardianship responsibilities to ensure people are safe from harmful situations.
“When these situations come up, which is a reality of our work, they can take up a lot of time and attention. Supporting people to come out of situations that are unsafe, and giving them opportunities to get a new start on the right foot often takes the whole community coming together.”
Natural disasters are another challenge that show how vital community can be. While forest fires are a normal occurrence during the summer months, in 2016 the region experienced flash flooding in June that washed out roads and saw water engulf many parts of Dawson Creek and the surrounding communities. “This year was completely out of the ordinary,” says Truly. “We jumped into action and followed our emergency plan. We used our contact lists to get in touch with individuals and families, making sure people knew what to do and where to go. We were in frequent contact with the city to get updates, and confirm where people should evacuate to if needed. It was just a full day of making contact to make sure people were safe. Thankfully everyone ended up being okay.”
While Truly is reluctant to sing her own praises, it’s not hard to find others who will happily do it for her. “I am very pleased with Truly’s work up here. She’s so compassionate and such a caring person. Those are really good qualities in her field of work,” says Marie Webb, whose son Sean is supported by CLBC.
Marie is also a resource parent with the Family Support Institute, and coordinates a family group that meets regularly in Dawson Creek. “Truly seems to really understand the challenges that family members often face. It’s not just me saying this. I work with other families all the time who are saying it too. You hear it all the time that when Truly takes something on, she does what she says she’s going to do and sees it to the end. “
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