Dengarry Professional Services Ltd. is 25 years old this year. From it’s humble beginnings in a renovated garage with just one phone line, the company has grown, not only in its Quesnel operation, but also in its expansion to seven other communities in the province.
However, it purpose and mission have remained the same.
Dengarry provides residential life skill, therapeutic recreation and employment support to adults with intellectual disabilities.
Garry and Carolyn Delaney and Dennis and Elizabeth Beeman, all with backgrounds in the medical and social service fields, started the company in April, 1987 with 15 employees and just seven individuals receiving services that first month.
The company initially responded to a contract tender by the Ministry of Social Services (now called Community Living B.C.) to provide residential services for adults with intellectual disabilities in the Quesnel area. Dengarry’s primary mission has always been to provide the quality community-based services necessary for each individual to live a happy and meaningful life.
Initially, Dengarry offered community group housing, day programming and some supported living. Over the years, the company has expanded services to meet demand as some individuals require significant support in their day-to-day life, where others only require a few hours of assistance a week in order to live independently.
This wide scope of services in Quesnel includes supportive living (up to 24 hours a day); cluster living where people reside in close proximity to each other so staff can provide individual life skill assistance throughout the day; home sharing where caregivers are contracted to provide live-in support in either their own home or the person’s residence; customized employment where people learn work-readiness skills; and community inclusion to support people in accessing therapeutic recreation as well as vocational and volunteer pursuits.
In 2008, Dengarry experienced a service redesign and expansion to better serve their clients.
“The vision of our service redesign back in 2008 needs to be largely credited to the support of Community Living B.C. When first approached with the idea of home sharing for a few individuals in our group home back in late 2007, we were somewhat skeptical, actually almost resistant,” Denton Delaney, Dengarry president said.
“With the support of David O’Toole and Wendy Framst of CLBC, we could envision how the lives of these individuals could improve and proceeded with a new service delivery model for our agency.
“With a lot of hard work and learning and the support of the individuals, their families and Dengarry staff, we had our first two home share providers start services in May 2008. The changes/improvements we have seen in these individual’s lives and the home share provider’s lives are indescribable. I could literally go on for hours about the amazing and exciting growth accomplished over the last 3 – 4 years. We have been fortunate to work with many families who showed great patience and trust when we suggested home sharing as a option for residential support.”
He went on to say the expansion to different communities started in March 2009.
“There was a lot to learn and challenges we did not predict,” Delaney said.
“At times mistakes were made and we have done our best to learn from them. I think this experience has made us better overall.
“I can’t thank enough the individuals receiving services, their families and the team leaders/home share coordinators, support staff and home share providers. We would not have been able to provide 25 years of quality services without all of you.”
The demands of this expansion ultimately brought Dengarry to it’s present location at 391 Johnston Avenue, across from the Ministry of Forests. With offices in eight communities, the company serves 116 individuals with 82 employees and 51 subcontractors across the province. However, Quesnel remains the home of Dengarry operations.
Of the original staff, one member has been with Dengarry for the entire 25 years – Barb Crannis.
“It amazes me that 25 years has passed since my first shift at Dengarry,” she said.
“In that time, I married, raised a family and pursued personal and educational goals as well. I think of how accommodating this company has been to myself and others to allow us to meet the changing needs of our families. In this way, Dengarry is like a family and I feel so fortunate to have been given this opportunity when I was hired by Garry all those years ago.”
Over time Crannis has seen the company grow and improve and has seen this reflected in the service the company provides.
“There have been times when I’ve thought of moving on and trying something new, but I believe in what we do here. I recognized it’s rare to find a combination of a career that gives you purpose and an employer who values you. It has not always been smooth, but what long term relationship is? It’s been a relief to see that even though Dengarry has tripled in size over the past few years, the values have remained constant. I think this is a testament to the leadership Denny has provided since becoming president five years ago. He has taken his parents company and expanded the vision beyond Quesnel, while staying true to the core mission.
“Twenty-five years of seeing the growth and improvements in the quality of life for people fills me with pride.”
Delaney said Dengarry is proud they have an original staff member of 25 years.
“It’s employees like Barb Crannis that have made our company and the services we provide a success” he said.
Delaney said the company has greatly benefited from excellent community partnerships as well.
School District 28 is one such partner with customized employment in the old Maple Drive school. This program has successfully transitioned some students turning 19 from high school into the work force.
Quesnel Employment Services offers a new initiative through Work B.C. where a Dengarry employment counselor provides services to adults with barriers to employment within the Work B.C. office.
Prima Resources and Quesnel Community Living Association also provide supports to adults with intellectual disabilities in Quesnel, allowing Dengarry and these agencies to work together to meet multiple needs of individuals.
Quesnel Mental Health, including the Q.U.E.S.S.T. Unit have provided invaluable resources to people who also have a mental illness so they can live in the community.
Dengarry also provides numerous practicum placements for students at College of New Caledonia and UNBC. Over the years many students have become employees.
“Thank you Quesnel for 25 years of cooperation, acceptance and providing an envirionment where people have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive,” Delaney concluded.