Annual General Meeting
Square Peg Society
April 14, 2018
VanCity Meeting Room, 5064 Kingsway, Burnaby BC
- Call to order: The meeting was called to order at 1:40pm by moderator, Fred Michael.
- Approval of minutes: Fred noted that there are no minutes to approve as this is the first formal AGM.
- Director’s Report: Joette Heuft reviewed the purpose and particular focus of the Square Peg Society as a non-profit, volunteer run organization that supports individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. The focus is on building independence for those individuals whose disability may be ‘invisible’ and who struggle post-secondary to establish themselves. Joette reviewed the activities of the society and the activities that she has been engaged with. Some examples are organizing meetings and the cooking club, responding to calls of enquiry about SPS, and ASD, participating in roundtable discussions on Employment and Mental Health (Pacific Autism Family Network, West Coast Child Development), preparing and delivering a presentation to the Fraser Health Board of Directors, and a meeting with Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health & Addictions. The group acknowledged Joette’s outstanding contribution to the development and success of Square Peg Society to date.
- Treasurer’s Report: Mahmoud Rezaee presented the financial statements for the fiscal year 2016-17. Total revenue was $2427.25 and total expenses were $1256.79 leaving a surplus balance of $1170.46. Discussion followed. Moved by Louvain Chalmers, seconded by Debra Merchant to accept 2016-7 financial statements as presented. Carried
- Approval of 2017-18 Budget: Mahmoud Rezaee reviewed the proposed budget and there was some discussion on bank fees – there was a one time cost of $80.87 for cheques – a significant cost, but this was the minimum order that we could place, and cheques were needed for paying volunteers for expenses incurred on our behalf. Moved by Sue McIntyre, seconded by Louvain Chalmers to approve the budget.
- Election of Board Members: Fred announced that Catherine Alcee will withdraw as Board Member at Large. Thank you to Catherine for her time over the past year. All other members will remain in the same positions:
- Executive Director: Joette Heuft
- Treasurer: Mahmoud Rezaee
- Secretary: Debra Merchant
- Members at Large: Fred Michael, Louvain Chalmers
- Charitable status: Fred provided an update on Square Peg Society’s application for charitable status. The timing of the approval process is uncertain. The application was acknowledged in Jan/2018 and is expected to be reviewed in May with possible approval for the fall.
- New Societies Act: Square Peg is a non-profit society in BC at present. There is a new Societies Act which we must comply with and it must be complete by Nov 2018. Dianne Simmons will work with Fred on this project as she has experience in this process.
- New Business/Project Updates:
- Website: Joette explained the importance of the website for Square Peg and believes a number of people follow events through the website. It takes time to continue to provide content for it, and will take funds to expand and improve it. Square Peg is grateful to Mahmoud for the work he has been done. Sue McIntyre will now assume responsibility to answer email enquiries, and will set up an email address to do so. There was a discussion about the effectiveness of using technology to reach/develop our community, website interactivity, and the need for technical support to achieve this. Louvain has consulted a friend who has expertise creating online communities and this person has agreed to advise on website development at a future meeting. Joette would like to start a Facebook page and perhaps initiate other social media activity.
- Film Club: This project, called REEL Relationships, is to be piloted over the summer by Aaron. The format is a monthly film (SFU students only) viewing and discussion that will be moderated by SFU grad students (selected by Dr. Grace Iarocci). For the time being the film club will be exclusive to SFU students as it will receive funds from the SFU Student Society. In future, we would like to open this up to everyone.
- Cooking club: Joette and Sue have been running the cooking club in space provided by Shaughnessy United Church. As the program develops we hope that parents would decrease, in order to enhance the participants’ sense of independence. Joette proposes to change the format so that sessions are booked in groups of three (eg. May, June, July) around a theme. One goal is to encourage bonding through consistency of attendees, and familiarity with the event. There would be two baking sessions per year as well (Christmas/April). Funding would be helpful to buy equipment and to compensate the volunteer chefs.
- Social group: Joette described some of the ideas for the social club that have been tried and the challenges associated with them. Many of our members feel socially isolated, but struggle with the effort, skills, and motivation needed to engage socially. While we feel that this is an important aspect of personal happiness and well-being, we are unsure of how to make this a success. We all agreed that parents cannot and should not plan or organize social activities on our members’ behalf; however, the opportunity is there for a young adult to take up the lead, and we would support this. In addition, some feel the need for more social engagement – should this be for parents? For families? In response to this discussion, Fred & Joette will, once per month, propose, a walk, coffee, gathering, or an activity for people to join in on if they wish, in order to provide an opportunity for people to meet and chat in an informal setting.
- Funding: There was a general discussion about the need for funding and the hope that it will be easier to secure when Square Peg has charitable status so that donation receipts can be issued. Charitable status also confers credibility to potential donors. Joette would like to be prepared to submit funding requests in advance of receiving charitable status and a personal friend has offered to help identify potential donors. Estimated funds needed for cooking club ($1000), film club ($1000), website ($5000) and PEERS Program, or other life skills training program ($30,000 for 2 sessions for 3 years). The idea of trying ‘Go Fund Me’ was discussed and will be implemented for the film club project. Dianne also suggested that municipal volunteer boards could be a source of volunteer help.
- Advocacy: Joette discussed some of her projects to increase awareness of challenges for ASD young adults such as the presentation to the Fraser Health Board and Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health & Addictions. We need someone to assist with the advocacy.
- Square Peg Meetings: Joette announced that meetings will decrease from 10 to 6/yr plus a summer picnic and Christmas event. There was discussion of different meeting formats with general consensus to keep things as is. We need help to organize and/or run the meetings. Please think of ideas for meetings and consider volunteering to run one meeting. This will be discussed further at the next Square Peg meeting on April 19, 2018.
- Meeting adjourned: the meeting was adjourned at 3:45pm.