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New organization ‘Branching Out’ to help people in our community

By Constance Scrafield

Only into its second month of operation, Branching Out Support Services, based at 5 First Street,  is already making itself known within the world that needs it most.

Founder Kim Van Ryn sat down with the Citizen to talk about this much-needed initiative. “These are day programs for adult development – therapeutic groups, social events. 

“People can't get to CLD (Community Living Dufferin),” Ms. Van Ryn explained. “We are working with CLD, working with Director Robert Bingham; he has been really supportive. This is a downtown location, it's imperative to serve our community-based activities: dance, karate, yoga, creative movement, tai-chi. We take dance at Citrus and they are amazing and support our organization.”

Branching Out uses the Mill Street Library too: “We do our yoga and creative movement there,” Ms. Van Ryn told us. “A lot of our program is about creating a safe space and social enterprise.”

This new business is based on “fee for service,” she said. “This is a social enterprise, a registered business; we put most of the funds back into the business. 

“We are also available to support parents and families, helping them to negotiate the system for funding. I send in counsellors as well as seeing families myself. I vet all my staff but these are people I've been working with for years.

“We work with families on adapting and one on one with the [special needs] individuals in the family to help them find their full potential.”

For her own background, Ms. Van Ryn outlined, “I was a Child Youth Worker for a foster agency. I did a lot of trauma care in my early career, working with children. I finished my B.A. in Human Services this year. I've done a lot of work around community development. I want to do my Masters in Community Development.”

She developed the impetus for her starting Branching Out: “We can talk about inclusion and diversity and we can use those words and, if that means opening a business in downtown Orangeville, that's what I'll do.”

Since opening on December 1, 2019, they have held movie nights and a New Year Eve's party. 

“It was a great success; we had 20 people come. I thought of so many people doing nothing on New Year's Eve and I thought, ‘Why not have a party?'”

As if to prove its worth, she told us a story: “One of the mothers said to me, ‘Do you know what I was thinking about?' ‘No,' I said. ‘what were you thinking?'

“And she said, ‘I was thinking that I'm coming to pick up my 17-year-old son from a party on a Saturday night just like any other sons and mothers and I've never been able to do that before.'”

Said Ms. Van Ryn, “We don't use the word disability in our name; we don't have to – it's a support service and everyone needs support and that – we all do sometime.”

To make her point about how much this service matters in the downtown core, Ms. Van Ryn pointed out, “We opened December 1 and we have 10 families in day programs and 10 to 20 in other programs. We do group day-away trips [in partnership with TeamWorks Dufferin]; we are supported by CLD, DCAFS and there are a variety of businesses for all the activities.

“Chandra Pepper does a drama group to help develop social skills and communication skills. Janee Gowing teaches them dance. They're amazing people. ”

We walked from where we were having tea to the Branching Out facility at 5 First Street, right near Broadway. 

The main room in is a clean, mostly white room and bright with interesting lighting from the previous tenant. Several tables are pushed together in the middle, chairs all around; there are leather couches and comfortable chairs; a coffee table with lego partially making a structure. At the far end is a kitchenette with good cupboards and a “scratch and go counter” from Ikea, essentially still perfect.

“Most of this was donated,” we were told proudly by the founder, “or we bought it at a thrift store.”

Stepping through to another room, is a pleasant, quiet space and, to one side, an alcove with full walls of woodland and nature scenes. Large cushions lay on the carpeted floor. There are series of small lights behind the photographic images of the trees that make up this natural scene. On one side is pictured one large tree and a “wainscotting,” as it were, of bushes fully cover the lower half of the wall. The woodland on the other side shows many trees, full sun beams coming through the leaves, flowers and plants run across the bottom. 

It is, suddenly, a peaceful and calming spot, in which to rest a little while and maybe, be away from everyday chaos.

Back in the main room, Ms. Van Ryn talked about the big picture for her clients. “We're looking for community inclusion with Dave, who focusses on paid employment for people. In some businesses, people can find places to work, where they can gain confidence, opportunities and empowerment, not just for the individual but for the whole family,” adding, “whatever that means. Actual relatives or group homes – if they don't have a circle, we'll create one.”

At the moment, the room was empty bar our two selves, though the evidence of earlier activity was on the table by the couch with the jumble of busy lego.

She offered as explanation: “They were here and they'll be back. They're swimming right how...”

Branching Out Support Services is on Facebook. Otherwise, the email is or call 519-216-0587.

Post date: 2020-01-16 15:21:32
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