“I love my job,” says Michele Frewin. “I really enjoy working with families and helping them connect to supports.”
Michele is a Supervisor of Administrative Services (SAS) and works with individuals and families at CLBC’s local offices in Richmond and Burnaby.
While an individual or family’s main contact is usually a CLBC facilitator, there are many people who work together as a team to support the people CLBC serves. The SAS’s role is to support not only staff in local offices but also the families and individuals we serve in the best possible way. Sometimes the support can be just to listen to the person on the phone or someone who walks into the office seeking information or supports.
Over her years of working for CLBC, Michele has learned from families how overwhelming it can be to begin the process of applying for CLBC services for their loved one.
“Being compassionate when dealing with families is so important,” says Michele. In her daily interactions with individuals and families, Michele tries to be sensitive and respectful, understanding there is much to learn from individuals and families.
As a young child, Michele’s best friend Nathan was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. She recalls that she and Nathan were “thick as thieves constantly getting into trouble together” and having lots of fun memories together. She remembers having no idea that he was any different than her because she saw him as the person he was, not as someone with a disability. This childhood friend was a huge influence on the area of government that she decided to work in.
Michele has been working for CLBC (including the Interim Authority) since it was created in 2005; prior to that, she worked for the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Children and Family Development. She started at CLBC’s head office providing administrative support but she missed working in the field so she moved to the local office in Richmond, where she plans to stay until she retires.
Michele has also been involved with CLBC’s Richmond Community Council since it started, a group of volunteers who work on projects with community partners to build awareness and inclusion. Participating with the Community Council has given her the opportunity to better understand and listen to families and self advocates.
“It’s given me more of an idea of what families are going through,” says Michele. “On occasion when doing an eligibility intake with a transitioning youth’s family member, the family can be overwhelmed with information as well as the unknown world of adult services. I give the family member time to talk and I listen and give information that will help to alleviate their worries. I try to imagine what it would be like in their position and give them my undivided attention and time.”
Michele has also appreciated having the opportunity to learn from self advocates who have worked in the office over the years.
“She’s really committed to making sure we’re providing the best services and support for people,” says Huy Nguyen, Integrated Service Manager for Burnaby, New Westminster and Richmond. “She goes above and beyond. She helps support our staff in order to better support families.”
Michele serves on the office social committee to make sure her co-workers maintain positive connections with each other and enjoy their work.
“She promotes teamwork and team spirit which creates a great work culture,” says Huy. “It motivates people in their work and they feel valued, so the supports the families are receiving should be of a higher quality and their experience with CLBC should be better.”