It goes without saying that this past year has certainly been an unprecedented one, with everyone feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kerry’s Place was no different.

Throughout all the operational changes needed to respond to the pandemic, we are proud that everyone kept the mission and values of Kerry’s Place at the forefront in all decisions – always looking to enhance the lives of those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). On behalf of the board of directors and the management team, we want to thank all the individuals supported by Kerry’s Place, their loved ones and the staff for their tremendous support this past year.

Our staff were instrumental in managing continuously changing public health guidelines, helping those supported cope with the isolation imposed by these guidelines, learning how to mitigate and manage outbreaks, and focusing on staffing to ensure supports were available. This was exemplified when our Community staff willingly stepped up to provide in-person supports to individuals in our supported living sites, while they transitioned to a virtual program delivery model.

Some of the changes in how programs are delivered in our Community Services and Supports team have been positive, allowing us to deliver consultation, group and individual programs, with increased efficiency and creativity. The necessity of using virtual tools to reach people, has provided some opportunity to provide services to more people. Our Young Adults program, focusing on employment assistance services, has actually grown during the pandemic.

While always focused on the health and safety of everyone at Kerry’s Place, the Clinical and Quality Outcomes department continued to increase their attention on enhancing the lives of those in our residences by providing and teaching staff enhanced behavioural skills.  A new model of care was also introduced at our Belwood treatment centre, which has had a positive effect at enhancing the clinical support for the staff and individuals.

In the fall of 2020, the Ministry of Children, Community Support Services announced changes to the Ontario Autism program.  New programs include: Caregiver-Mediated Early Years (2 to 4 years); Entry to School (4 to 6 years); Urgent Response Services for children in crisis; and Foundational Family Services for newly diagnosed children. Kerry’s Place partnered with York/Simcoe Autism Services (fourteen partners) and the Toronto Autism Services Network (seven partners) resulting in successful bids on the Caregiver Mediated Early Years and Entry to School programs respectfully. Our staff will deliver these new programs this fall.


Mary Lowe, Board Chair | Stephanie Ameis, Director | Jane Bullbrook, Director | Garry Chan, Director | Enza Dininio, Director | Phil Dowd, Director | Ali Ladha, Treasurer | James Stellick, Director | Jan Stewart, Director | Karen Sullivan, Director | Tom Whelan, Director | Carobeth Zorzos, Director | Robert Hart, Chair Emeritus


Co-Chairs: Dianne Gaggi | Steve Simkus || Members: Jeffrey Amos | Ed Balyk | Carolan Halpern | Monty Hyde | Lise Lareau | Steve Riley | Laura Robbs

Part of our continuous quality improvement journey includes the path to accreditation by Accreditation Canada.  Accreditation is an independent, third party evaluation against recognized national standards that help organizations measure and improve on an ongoing basis.  The rigourous process will help ensure that we have the knowledge, resources and mechanisms to improve the quality of support to our individuals. This includes creating new tools to monitor operations, such as a risk registry, ethics framework, an enhanced quality improvement plan, and developing work plans to meet and exceed the required accreditation standards.

In the fall we initiated our Housing Strategy initiative, to gather feedback to support the creation of a plan that would address the future housing needs of our supported individuals as they age, as well as considering new housing models that might help address the tremendous number of adults with ASD that sit on waiting lists.  Members of both Kerry’s Place Autism Services Board and Kerry’s Place Residential Services Board are working together to support this strategy along with staff, families and our partners in the ASD community.

Hearing from those we serve and their loved ones has always been important to Kerry’s Place. Over the past year, we’ve been looking to provide a more formal vehicle to gather input from our stakeholders. Our Family Advisory Committee (FAC), which just completed its second year, created a work plan to address improvement suggestions from the first Family Satisfaction Survey. The amazing volunteers on the FAC, provided information for the new Family Newsletter, and are currently working on a Family Charter, which will act as a guide for families’ and Kerry’s Place. We are excited to see this Charter come forward and thank the FAC for their incredible work this year. Kerry’s Place also introduced our new Adult Autism Committee, comprised of young adults with autism, who are providing input to management as to how Kerry’s Place can help them achieve their life goals.

The Human Resources Department welcomed a new Vice President, who, with the team is revising our recruitment strategy, has created a new Health & Wellness Program and is initiating a Diversity Equity and Inclusion plan.

We would like to thank our individuals and their families for their support over this challenging year.  We especially acknowledge the incredible challenge it’s been for families who have been deprived of visiting in person with the individuals they love. By following government restrictions and instituting COVID safety requirements, we focused our efforts to keep everyone safe. It was a tremendous burden on so many and we thank you for your patience as we navigated and unfortunately, continue to navigate the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

We would also like to thank the board of directors for their guidance, hours of volunteer work and support for the management team. And to the managers, directors and senior team who have skillfully navigated Kerry’s Place through these challenging times.

And finally, we want to thank the staff who have shown resilience, optimism and courage this past year to manage the challenges of the pandemic, in their work and personally.

Like all of you, we are glad to say goodbye to the past year, but it has made us prouder of all of you and your support of Kerry’s Place and its mission.

Sue VanDeVelde-Coke
President and CEO


Mary Lowe
Chair of the Board of Directors


In Memoriam Mark Walsh

Mark was always so proud to be connected with Kerry’s Place. His generosity in praising and supporting those he worked and served with was always appreciated.

Mark was elected to the Board as a Director in September 2009, holding various roles, including Board Chair and Treasurer. Leaving the board at the 2019 AGM as Chair of the Board, Mark’s comments about Kerry’s Place and his time with us clearly demonstrated the passion and commitment with which he led and moved our organization forward.

He will be missed by all that he worked with at Kerry’s Place!

…the strongest Board I have been a part of – it’s been a blast!
Mark Walsh, AGM 2019