Celebrating three decades of DASCH Foundation

Thirtieth anniversaries are traditionally celebrated with pearls, which are valued for their iridescent glow, timelessness and resilience. 

Marking its own 30-year milestone in 2022, the DASCH (Direct Action in Support of Community Homes) Foundation certainly has all those qualities. For three decades, the foundation has been a constant source of light for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities, adapting to meet the changing needs of those individuals, and persevering through hard times like the recent pandemic. 

DASCH Inc. - Greater Possibilities

“We’re certainly touching the lives of the individuals DASCH supports,” says Dorothy Ross, DASCH Foundation’s Chief Development Officer.

“But we’re also touching the lives of their families,” she continues. “We’re giving them peace of mind so they can rest assured that their family members are being cared for, they’re being encouraged to grow and develop, and live life to the fullest.” 

In the beginning

This story actually goes back almost 50 years, with the creation of DASCH Inc.

DASCH Inc. was founded in 1974 as a Winnipeg not-for-profit to provide services for people with intellectual disabilities, their families and caregivers. When the organization eventually realized it needed a registered charitable arm, it established the DASCH Foundation to fill that role 30 years ago.

Celebrating 30 years of DASH Foundation at DASCH Inc.

“It was a situation where people wanted to support DASCH Inc. by providing donations,” explains Dorothy, who recently joined DASCH Foundation and has been a 20-year veteran of the not-for-profit sector.

DASCH Inc. is the operational side that delivers programs and services, while DASCH Foundation is the registered charitable arm that manages fundraising, donations and an endowment fund. Dorothy says the foundation was also set up with a long-term purpose in mind: to ensure DASCH Inc. has the consistent financial means to continue supporting our community, not just today but tomorrow.

“The thought behind creating the foundation was to ensure we can continue in perpetuity and look toward the future,” she says. 

Serving the DASCH community

Planning for a secure future takes on even greater importance when you consider the breadth of services offered by DASCH Inc. That includes day programs, respite care, foster care, social events, volunteering opportunities, recreation activities and life skills training like literacy and cooking classes.

In 2020, the organization launched DASCHWorks, a vocational program where individuals can have interest and abilities assessments, then receive technical skills training towards finding paid work in the community. The same year, they launched an expanded recreation program.

On top of that, DASCH Inc. owns and operates 58 homes where trained staff offer 24/7 care and support for over 150 residents with intellectual disabilities. These residences are just one main example of why DASCH Foundation strives to maintain a solid financial footing for DASCH Inc. 

What DASCH Inc. does, however, goes far beyond providing housing and people services. According to DASCH Inc.’s vision statement, its purpose is “to build and inspire a community of inclusion where people with intellectual disabilities are valued and enabled to live to their full potential.” This ties in with the organization’s new logo and motto, “Greater Possibilities.” 

Building a solid foundation

DASCH Foundation receives funding from various sources, including government, community grants, private donations, corporate donations, corporate sponsorships, fundraising events and foundations such as The Winnipeg Foundation, the Graham C. Lount Family Foundation and the Thomas Sill Foundation, among others.

Since government policy, economic conditions and donor resources can all fluctuate over time, it’s critical for the DASCH Foundation to maintain a consistent financial base for DASCH Inc. The pandemic was the ultimate in unforeseen circumstances, making it tougher to raise funds at the same time as demand for DASCH Inc. services skyrocketed.

During the pandemic, ACU was there for DASCH Foundation, just as it has been for the past 21 years.

ACU partnership

Dorothy says ACU’s relationship with DASCH Foundation goes deeper than providing banking and financial services. 

“ACU has provided support all along the way with our operations and growth and purchases of new homes. But more importantly, they’ve supported the vision and where we’re going. They supported the goal of inclusion for our community right from the start,” she says.

Bill Dinsdale

“Being a credit union means our decision-making is made locally in Winnipeg,” adds Bill Dinsdale, ACU’s Senior Commercial Account Manager and Not for Profit Specialist. “That gives us an advantage over the big five banks where a lot of decision-making is made out-of-province, and where maybe there’s not the same understanding of the nuances of a non-profit.”

Bill, whose own ACU working relationship with DASCH Foundation dates back to 2013, says the credit union also assists individuals in the DASCH community with their personal banking needs.

“If someone with intellectual disabilities needs banking services, we try to work with them to make that an easier process because that’s one of our missions, to make sure people who are underbanked are able to access services,” he says.

Looking ahead

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, DASCH Inc. continues to evolve with the needs of the people it supports.

DASCH’s dream is to help build, promote and support an inclusive community where everyone is valued and welcome. 

“The endowment fund is something we continue to grow and manage in the sense that, as long as it’s needed, these services and homes will be available,” says Dorothy. “That’s the idea: looking towards the future and how to ensure the people DASCH supports feel safer and more comfortable.”

Learn more about DASCH Inc., including further details about the wonderful work they do in our community. Congratulations to the entire DASCH Foundation team on marking this 30-year celebration!

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About Christine Wong

Christine Wong has been covering business and technology since 1995, when Mark Zuckerberg was in sixth grade. A former associate producer at Business News Network and Slice TV, Wong freelances while chasing after the biggest story of her life — Ben, who is 10.

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