SPAN Board chair Tom Melnyk and Executive Director Tim Bear accept the innovation award from Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir at a gathering of the Alberta Council of Disability Services early in May. SPAN received provincial recognition recently as the recipient of the Innovation Award from ACDC. The award recognizes “dynamic and emergent solutions in Community Disability Services” with SPAN being singled out for its social enterprise endeavors to support persons with disabilities.
“This is the only award the provincial body gives out, and it recognizes the most innovative agency in the province,” SPAN executive Director Tim Bear said, expressing his delight in accepting the award. “While social enterprises have been around for more than 100 years, SPAN is leading the way in Canada with intentional business in the charitable sector,” reads SPAN’s nomination for the award. Making note of SPAN’s latest and largest social enterprise endeavor, the Hampton Inn by Hilton in St. Paul, the nomination points to it as being a means to “generate capacity and address a community need, create employment for target populations, generate income for the agency outside of government funding”.
Clova Lehr, ACDS director of accreditation and services, said the Innovation Award winner is selected by the 130 members of ACDC. She said SPAN’s selection this year recognized the organization’s endeavors in sustainability of services and funding, and the fact that it has opened a business that “gives back to the community” in terms of employment opportunities and being a contributor to the local economy.
Lehr said the sector is seeing an increasing shift among its members to explore social enterprises to secure long-term funding for service delivery and long term programming for the clients they serve.