Vecova's 2020 fiscal year was one of unprecedented reflection and change.

Reflect with Vecova on the past year’s successes, hopes and goals for the future, and how Vecova has continued to make progress for Albertans of all abilities during this challenging year.


“This past year has been influenced by what was happening in and around us and how we have responded, adapted and changed. The pandemic and its effects were often in the forefront of our minds and actions. When asked how Vecova managed and weathered the pandemic, what came to mind is that Vecova continued to thrive.


Yes, there were many challenges. I can’t understate how saddened we were by the impacts to our programs and services, the suspension of and re-opening of businesses, the loss of revenues, the changes and reductions of our workforce, and the reduced engagement with our consumers. And we would be remiss to not acknowledge the hardships that so many individuals experienced, both personally and professionally.


However, throughout this year, Vecova remained strong. We thrived because our employees and supporters brought inspiration and led the way in our resilience. Together we charted a course to a future that is sustainable and will forever influence how society thinks about disability. Our employee’s resolve to provide top notch quality services to our consumers and to forge ahead with our plans for the future showcased their commitment to Vecova’s pillars of inclusion, innovation and impact. This is reflected in the stories in this Annual General Report.


Vecova is forever grateful for the ongoing support of our employees, consumers, donors and supporters. We look forward to a future where we once again can connect in person.


Thank you!”

-Joan Lee, Chief Executive Officer




Vecova is innovative. Every day, employees work to find solutions to problems for underserved communities with complex issues. Vecova is able to accelerate positive outcomes because of donors and supporters.

Accessibility is still an issue faced by many individuals. Persons of all abilities should have access to wellness programs and services that meet and exceed their expectations and needs. Vecova’s Aquatics, Health and Fitness offers different programs that fill many purposes for our community.


“In 2018, Vecova completed a gaps-and-needs analysis in the community, which identified a gap in the options available for youth and aging adults with disabilities to get the physical activity they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Thomas Naested, the Director of Wellness Services at Vecova, shared. “From there, Vecova determined there is a critical need for a dedicated weight and fitness room that persons with disabilities and other individuals in our specialized fitness classes can use to improve their personal cardio and strength skills.

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“We used our time this year to create Vecova’s new Strength and Conditioning Studio. It will be a new space and opportunity for persons with disabilities to stay active and engaged in their community in the Vecova environment, which provides a safe and inclusive space for persons of all abilities.”


Vecova’s donors played a major role in its development. Through collaboration and donations from groups such as the City of Calgary, Kinsmen Club of Calgary, Canada Post Community Foundation and the Children’s Hospital Aid Society, Vecova has been able to commit to ensuring that everything in this space was done well and designed with accessibility in mind.


Taking on a project like this required collaboration from multiple areas of expertise. Occupational therapists, kinesiologists, adaptation architects and exercise physiologists were brought in to help design the space in a thoughtful and deliberate way. Considerations for spacing, colours, specialized equipment, lighting and flooring were made to ensure that the space is fully accessible to any individual who wants to fulfill their wellness goals.


When it officially opens to the public, tentatively planned for Fall 2021, it will be another way that Vecova’s Aquatics, Health and Fitness is innovating wellness services for persons of all abilities.

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To create a welcoming and inclusive space where persons with disabilities are able to work out without any physical, social or mental barriers.

To encourage regular physical activity for persons with disabilities so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle.

To provide an easily accessible opportunity for persons with disabilities and specialized needs (e.g., Parkinson’s, injury, illness, degenerative disease process, etc.) to maintain their physical wellness through a variety of fitness options like strength and core activities.

To provide a sustainable and adaptable fitness program that Vecova can offer to persons with disabilities now and in the future.

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Specialized flooring, colours, window coverings and lighting reviewed by an accessibility architect.


Considerations for sensory therapy and people with dementia reviewed by an occupational therapist.


Adaptative physical rehabilitation considerations made under the guidance of an exercise physiologist.

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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Vecova’s primary focus was on how the organization was going to continue to provide programs and services to the community. No one knew how long it was going to last or how it was going to affect everyone; all that was known was that the organization had to do what was needed to create as much normalcy as possible.

Vecova’s Wayfinder program helps individuals to explore and participate in their interests within the community and to develop support networks and meaningful relationships. When restrictions were imposed, opportunities for individuals in Wayfinder were postponed or even cancelled.


Wayfinder was faced with a challenge – how does one continue to provide opportunities for participation and community engagement when the traditional methods have been eliminated? The Wayfinder team took on this challenge, as they developed a way to engage with consumers so they were not socially isolated during this period.


This started Wayfinder’s online programming. Twice a day, five times a week, Wayfinder hosts social programming online with different themes, structures and topics. There have been cooking classes, gardening classes, discussion chats, bingo and more. It’s created an opportunity for Wayfinder consumers to reengage with their peers, catch up and learn new skills together.

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So far, it’s been a massive success. Wayfinder’s online programming has provided 3,333 points of contact with consumers and has been beneficial not only in reducing isolation but also in helping develop new skills and abilities.


“Participating in weekly Vecova programs has helped many develop technical and communication skills that they will use for the rest of their lives and along with that comes increased confidence and independence,” said Adella Nancy Mergen, Wayfinder Practitioner.


Grace Gelden, Wayfinder Team Leader shared, “One consumer never spoke to other people when we did programs in person; but online, he’s comfortable with speaking to all of the people on his computer.”


It has also given the employees the opportunity to challenge themselves and has provided more insight on how they can support individuals during this transition.


“As an employee, the overall purpose and nature of my work has not changed, the environment has changed,” said Linda Hazzard, Wayfinder Practitioner. “Meeting online has opened us up to relationships with consumers and employees outside of our teams and departments and I think this will be a benefit that will carry over when we can be in person again.”


This is just one example of the work that Vecova has done to meet the needs of consumers in 2020. Vecova’s programs and services are designed to be agile and robust – and the workforce is capable of delivering the highest standard of support that Albertans are expecting.  

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“Finding new ways to engage with our community, raise awareness and fundraise, while everyone is isolated at home, has been an exercise in creativity. Our team has had to adapt to new ideas on how to present our existing events.


Our Strength in Abilities run is the perfect example of this. Instead of the traditional 2k, 5k and 10k walk or run, we decided to host it all online for a week-long event. Through the #StrengthInAbilities hashtag, we hosted daily challenges, online fitness classes and more to engage the community in unique ways.


We also hosted our Chili Cook-Off online, in partnership with The Lookout Kitchen and Bar at Lynx Ridge Golf Club. By purchasing a featured menu item, a portion of the proceeds went to Vecova’s programs and services for persons of all abilities.


Connection was what we learned most from our events this year. If our community is engaged, we can still host successful events online that support persons of all abilities.”

-Simona Lupas, Director of Development 

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Learning and Development


“Learning and Development had already begun strategic and forward-thinking planning pre-pandemic. We understood that learning needs were shifting quickly, and that flexible, time sensitive and alternative options to meeting learning outcomes were needed, especially for our dynamic, quickly-changing workforce.


However, the pandemic pushed us to accelerate our plans because the need for innovative solutions was no longer a want or a nice idea, but an urgent necessity. No more in-classroom or in-person support challenged us to shift priorities, move beyond our network, beyond our sector and beyond the options we had in place previously.


There has been an adaptation period going from classroom to virtual, both for the trainer and for the employee. Yet overall, all of these changes have facilitated employees to complete their essential skills training faster, rather than waiting for classroom courses. We are also able to provide learning with less impact on costs associated with coverage, and supervisors have become more engaged with how employees apply new skills in their own work environment. Despite the challenges this past year has seen, the results have been very positive.”

-Stephanie Overend, Learning and Development Manager

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Mental Health Services


“It has been critical that our individuals have continued to receive ongoing counselling support in a safe and consistent manner. This not only allowed us to continue to work on issues that were present prior to the pandemic but we could also provide support to consumers who were having difficulty coping with the pandemic. Generally speaking, common responses included concerns surrounding depression, anxiety, instability and isolation. By shifting and offering counselling services virtually, we have been able to offer ongoing support to assist consumers and their supports with strategies to help cope with current concerns.”

-Nicole Flodberg, Registered Provisional Psychologist


“It was really important to make the shifts and adjustments to providing telepsychology online and over the phone. This adjustment has been a positive move for many, some more than others. For a consumer who had a stroke, she has found that it is more accessible to her. She can book appointments on her own, she doesn’t need to rely on transportation. She can also type her answers if she needs to. As far as practitioners, we had limited training on teletherapy – so we had to make our own adjustments to our practice. There are challenges in not being in person – for example, reading non-verbal cues and body language – but we’ve gotten even better at listening.”

-Karl Melting Tallow, Provisional Psychologist 

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Vecova’s Recycling Services has a history of innovation. From its humble origins of starting as a workplace opportunity for persons with disabilities, to continuing its legacy by being the first and only nonprofit bottle depot in Calgary that employs persons with barriers to employment, being able to adapt and be resilient is in its DNA.

No two days are the same with the Recycling Services team, and that is by design. They’re always planning for growth and striving for greater community impact, both environmentally and in their capacity as one of Vecova’s social enterprises. The more they recycle, the more positive outcomes for the environment and the more funds that go straight to Vecova’s programs and services for persons of all abilities.


When many organizations and businesses had to close this past year, Recycling Services were committed to re-open as quickly as possible while also maintaining a high standard of service for the safety of consumers and essential employees.

Vecova’s Bottle Depot changed their service delivery model entirely. From operating as a traditional bottle depot, the Recycling Services team envisioned a new and safe alternative to recycling beverage containers. The launch of Vecova’s Curbside Bottle Depot Service offered a safe alternative to returning bottles by reducing the amount of touch-points between consumers and employees, and allowing Vecova to do its part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

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While consumers have appreciated the change, the employees have also felt its impact.


“I commend the employees for their response during the pandemic and for the execution of the curbside business model, which allowed them to be gainfully employed during these unprecedented times,” Christopher Anstey, Director of Business Development, shared.


“Employees in the depot have been immersed in a consistent culture of change and as a result, built up a strong sense of resiliency.”


Vecova’s Bottle Pick-Up Service also had to modify their services. With being a non-traditional recycling service, the team is used to adapting practices for their consumers. When the pandemic hit, they found an opportunity in helping the community reduce their trips to a bottle depot, while giving them the opportunity to recycle their beverage containers in a meaningful way.


As a result, they found an increase in residential collections due to the pandemic.


“We pivoted to meet the demands of our consumers at their doorsteps, by creating a better sense of security, and putting the health and safety of the public at the forefront of our operations” Christopher said.

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The future for Recycling Services is all about evolving with the community. They’re currently working on a mobile app, to provide more efficient and convenient self-service options for consumers.


This area is also exploring new options for expansion. During an analysis of the recycling market, Vecova was presented with an opportunity for electronics recycling. An initial test run in recycling electronics was a huge success in community engagement.


“We also had outstanding turnout, with over 700 vehicles coming through and dropping off at least one electronics item that otherwise may have landed in a landfill.”


Ultimately, when operations go back to normal and restrictions are lifted, Recycling Services will not slow down. As they grow, their ability to serve the community grows. When consumers come to Vecova’s Bottle Depot or use Vecova’s Bottle Pick-Up Service, it has an immediate, positive impact on the lives of persons with disabilities. That only makes Vecova want to work harder to innovate and find creative ways to engage the community even more.


That is what Vecova’s Recycling Services is all about.

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containers processed by Vecova’s Bottle Depot


worth of containers processed by Vecova’s Bottle Depot


electronics recycled at Vecova’s Residential Electronics Recycling Roundup Event

Average monthly volume of residential donations through Vecova’s Bottle Pickup service


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Vecova stands for equity, inclusion and resiliency.

Shifts in how society treats each other and how people view the world have made 2020 a pivotal year. Much of what has emerged has validated the changes Vecova is undertaking. While the organization is conscious that growth and evolution continues, Vecova is assured that its future is heading in the right direction.

New Strategic Direction: Vecova’s upcoming 10-Year Strategy and 3-Year Strategic Plan demonstrates that the organization is cognizant of the work that needs to continue. Vecova is always striving to lead the way for positive social change. To be launched mid-2021, these plans, which have been in development over this past year, will solidify Vecova’s role as a leader in Canada’s abilities community.
Housing Services: Vecova continues to innovate its programs and services for the community, rising and surpassing the best and promising practices for providing long-term care for individuals of all abilities. With the divestment of properties to strategic partnerships, Vecova is focusing on what it does best – providing direct support to hundreds of persons with disabilities and ensuring they have inclusive, appropriate, safe and affordable homes that give them choice, freedom, safety and inclusion in their community.
Wayfinder: Vecova will launch its new Explore, Experience, Decide, Assess resource in 2021, innovating its community access programming. With a focus on collaboration with the individuals served, this new model gives consumers the ability to chart their own path with support.

Employment Services: Expanding to digital programming in 2021, Employment Services will continue to improve how they serve persons with barriers to employment. Providing new options for programming increases accessibility, allows the organization to serve a greater population, and increases the program’s positive outcomes.
Aquatics, Health and Fitness: Vecova is making strides in adaptative programming, from the Strength and Conditioning studio (to open in 2021) to the new programming for persons with dementia. The goal is to continue building opportunities to be part of a person’s lifelong wellness journey – so that people of any age, any ability and any comfort level can belong at Vecova.
Vecova’s First Nations Program: Vecova’s First Nations Program will support First Nations peoples with disabilities so they may improve their quality of life and have access to basic needs, mental health and daily living supports as they transition from their home communities into an urban setting. Vecova is currently in early stages of research and planning, and is excited to make this program a reality.





Vecova changes the lives of Albertans every day, thanks in part to the generosity of donors and the passion of volunteers. These individuals, groups and organizations help to support Albertans of all abilities to build a society where differences are valued.

The Hillhurst Rebekah Lodge is one of the many dedicated supporters that help make Vecova’s Aquatics, Health and Fitness programs accessible for persons of all abilities.


“As members of the Calgary community, we at Hillhurst Rebekah Lodge feel it is our duty and obligation to support those less fortunate than ourselves. With this in mind, we have been honoured to assist in sustaining the [water wheelchairs] at Vecova for the past eight years,” the committee explained.


Thanks to their generous support, Vecova has been able to regularly maintain and replace the water wheelchairs used in the warm, barrier-free, salt water pool. These water wheelchairs are used by persons of all abilities daily to stay active and maintain their physical wellbeing in the pool.


The use of the water wheelchairs on a frequent basis in the salt water pool causes the metal to corrode very easily. The chairs must be repaired and replaced regularly to ensure they are safe and functional for people to use.


“We know that our financial contributions are a mainstay to the upkeep of the chairs, as well as the upkeep of personal health and growth of both mental and physical well-being of the participants in this program,” representatives shared.


For individuals in the fitness programs, these water wheelchairs are essential to achieving good health and wellbeing. Vecova’s Gentle Fitness classes, for example, provide opportunities for people who are just starting to get active or are returning to fitness after an injury, illness, degenerative disease process (like arthritis) or new diagnosis. A water wheelchair ensures they can easily get in and out of the water to exercise.


“To realize the positive impact of our donations to this program is a reward in itself to our members,” said the committee.


“It is our intention to continue to support this program on an ongoing basis in the foreseeable future.”


Vecova is truly grateful for the support of donors like Hillhurst Rebekah Lodge, who make it possible to continue providing safe, accessible and inclusive wellness opportunities for individuals of all abilities.   


This past year has presented both incredible challenges and unique opportunities to re-think programs, services and delivery models. The pandemic has emphasized the importance of the nonprofit sector as it works closely with those affected by the pandemic and protects the stability and health of the community.

Restrictions resulted in the temporary suspension and reduction in services, particularly in Aquatics, Health and Fitness as well as Recycling Services’ Bottle Depot. The programs and services provided in Housing, Wayfinder and Employment shifted considerably to respond to the support gaps resulting from loss of work, access to community facilities and activities and to meet health and safety needs.


However, throughout all these challenges, the pandemic has shown Vecova’s resilience and ability to step up, adapt and innovate.


The numbers do not tell the entire story of the work behind the scenes by Vecova’s employees as they worked diligently to deliver services and protect the people whom Vecova supports. While the COVID-19 response remains a focus through extensive hours invested to ensure the health and safety of the community, other aspects of Vecova’s work continued. Vecova increased collaborations, innovations and new methods to provide services to ensure the continued delivery of needed programs.


The support of funding partners and the public helped Vecova deliver new and innovative programs.


Vecova benefitted from a number of emergency relief grants to address key priorities and provide services during the pandemic.


We would like to acknowledge our thousands of donors for their ongoing support. Every donation makes an incredible difference in the lives of thousands of Albertans of all abilities.

Monthly and One-Time Donors (PDF Download)
Gift In Kind Donors: Individuals and Businesses (PDF Download)


1373786 AB Ltd
ATB Financial
Canadian Pacific Railway
Christ’s Corridor Red Deer Calgary Assembly
Computer Modelling Group Ltd.
ConocoPhillips Corp
Costco Wholesale – Rocky View
Critical Mass
DevFinite Inc.
Hempden Holdings Limited
Husky Energy
Imperial Oil
Lynx Ridge Golf Club
Mawer Investment Mgmt Ltd.
MaxGreen Exteriors
Nexen Energy
Ovintiv Canada ULC
Patching Associates Acoustical Engineering Ltd
PayPal Giving Fund Canada
Rona Bowness
St. Stephen Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church
Stuart Olson Construction Ltd
TC Energy
The Vistas of Tuscany Condos
William G De Haas M D Profesional Corporation

Foundations and Service Clubs

Canada Post Community Foundation/fondation Communautaire De
CanProm Foundation C/O Aqueduct Foundation
Children’s Hospital Aid Society
Edmonton Community Foundation
Enterprise Holdings Foundation
George Evans Family Fund at Calgary Foundation
Graydon and Dorothy Morrison Fund at Calgary Foundation
Harry & Martha Cohen Foundation
Hillhurst Rebekah Lodge #116
Kinsmen Club of Calgary
McKenna Family Fund
Rob and Sheila Innes Foundation C/O Aqueduct Foundations
Students’ Union – University of Calgary
The Calgary Foundation
The Foundation for Seniors’ Care – Hearts of Excellence
Turner Family Foundation at Calgary Foundation
United Way of Calgary and Area
Winnifred Gruffith Legacy Fund at Calgary Foundation


Calgary Airport Authority
Rocky View Schools
University of Calgary


Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis
The City of Calgary: Emergency Resiliency Funding
The City of Calgary: Civic Partner Operating and Infrastructure Grant
Government of Alberta: Community and Social Services
Government of Alberta: Labour and Immigration
Government of Alberta: Health
Government of Canada: Canada Summer Jobs
Government of Canada: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Government of Canada: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy


Lowe’s Canada Heroes Campaign with Rona Bowness


Vecova is based in Calgary, Aberta Canada and our centres are located on the traditional territories of First Nations Peoples of Treaty 7. The Treaty 7 Lands in Southern Alberta are home to the Kainai Nation, Piikani Nation, Siksika Nation, Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley (Stoney-Nakoda) Nations. Calgary is also home to Region 3 of the Métis Nation of Alberta.


Dr. Ivan Sierralta

Board Chair

Joan Lee


Meredith MacDonald

Vice Chair

Donald Dart


Michelle McKenna


Kyle Bakx

JT Dhoot

Karin Finley

Neil Mackie

Robert McKercher

Angel Sansregrett

Steve Twible

Don Verdonck


Joan Lee

Chief Executive Officer

Yvonne Martodam

Chief Operating Officer

Donovan Tymchyshyn

Chief Strategy Officer

Christopher Anstey

Director of Business Development

Simona Lupas

Director of Development

Karen Miles

Director of Housing Support Services

Tom Naested

Director of Wellness Services

Karyn Richardson

Director of Human Resources & Organizational Risk

David Walsh

Director of Finance