If you visit Ranch Ehrlo Society’s family programs office, you’ll probably feel very welcomed.
There are a few reasons for that – the first is that the front desk has a friendly receptionist ready to direct you to wherever you need to go. The second is that she sits in front of a unique feature.
The “welcome wall” displays the word “welcome” in 30 languages, ranging from Cree to German and nearly everything in between.
The idea for the wall came after family programs director Patti Petrucka attended a conference on building family support in Washington, D.C.
“One of the questions asked at the conference was, ‘how can you be sure that you’re being fully inclusive?’ They talked about your literature being in different languages to make sure you’re representative of who you serve,” Patti explained.
“So it was from that concept where I thought, ‘we need a wall that says welcome in different languages, because in my programs I also work with newcomers to Canada. And what a wonderful thing, to come into a space and see in your own language, ‘welcome’.”
The response to the wall has been overwhelmingly positive, Patti said.
“People love it. It’s been a hit with our referring workers, with our families, and with our staff.”
The Family Treatment Program and Intensive Family Preservation Service, which make up the family programs, strive to include their families in other ways as well – they even had a hand in the design of the new office space.
“Before we signed the lease for this office space, we brought families here and we asked their opinion on how we could make it family friendly,” Patti explained. “We wanted to minimize the space feeling like an office.”
“We’re trying so hard to be more and more family inclusive, and to get families involved in all aspects of the program, because that’s who we serve. They know what they need or what they want,” Patti concluded.