The SIStem is Broken

“You plant the seed, you may not see the bloom, but you helped plant that seed for their future.” – Laverne

Laverne has been an essential part of Quint since it was created. She is a founding board member of Quint, and one of the reasons the organization has the pulse and impact it does today.

As a lifelong resident of Pleasant Hill and many years of community organizing in the core neighbourhoods,  Laverne’s leadership was an instrumental part of the vision that led to the formation of Quint. As a member of the founding Board, Laverne helped ensure that the foundation of Quint was solid with a clear strategic plan and policies that have shaped the organization as it developed in the early years.

A system, like others, set up to oppress

  • Sitting on the phone for hours only to have an automated message come on and then drop your call;
  • Finally speaking to a person on the other end only to be provided no answers and redirected online/back to the call line;
  • Requesting support in filling out their application due to a visual impairment, but told that wasn’t ‘part of their job’, and;
  • Navigating complex steps, within a prescribed timeframe, with no direction.

Anne, the mom of one of our staff, was transitioning from SAP as the benefit was being phased out, when was told she could not apply for the SAID benefit until she was on SIS. Deemed physically incapable of going back to work when on SAP, she now meets monthly with a worker to discuss her job search. Meetings that will have to continue or she risks losing her benefits while waiting to be accepted onto SAID. How she receives notifications for these meetings is via email. Anne doesn’t have a computer and struggles with digital literacy.

…. thankfully she had her daughter to advocate for her

Anne’s daughter advocates on her behalf and supports her in any way that she can, including completing all of the complex steps to get onto and maintain the SIS benefit. When Anne’s payments were disrupted by a month due to the application process, her daughter was there to make sure she didn’t get behind on rent and still had food on the table. Anne’s daughter wasn’t reimbursed for these unexpected costs, who, as a single mom is still needing to support her own family.

Struggles with these “default settings”

Have you every downloaded an app or created a new online account? These platforms typically come with default settings…settings meant to optimize the users experience, to make navigating whatever platform you are on easier.

The default settings of systems like SIS are meant for people to fail.

  • Communication is defaulted to email
  • Application process is defaulted to an online system
  • People’s unique financial needs are defaulted to a one size fits all shelter and basic allowance

“They” know that a significant number of clients do not have regular access to a phone, computer, or even internet. They know that transportation barriers can make it hard for people to gather all the paperwork needed to apply for income support. They know the data of average rent prices doesn’t match what is provided in the shelter allowance. They know that the cost of living is higher than the basic allowance provided. They know. They know. They know.

Yes, there is ways to get past the default settings to SIS…but it is hard.  Anne took everything she was told by her worker as fact. She was simply trying to comply with what she was told out of survival. It wasn’t until her daughter started questioning the process and helping her to advocate for herself that she realized she had other options.  So the question is why?  Why cant these options be the default setting? Why cant it be easier for people to receive income support? Why does it need to be a hurdle to make changes that will support a person more?  Why?

As the organization continued to grow, Laverne’s position evolved into the  Director of Operations but she continued to oversee and guide the affordable housing program. She is also one of our main social function organizers ensuring that we maintain a strong and cohesive staff team/family, something that she prides herself on. She has worked hard to make sure staff feel included, heard and part of the decision making process within the organization.

Laverne also played a large role in organizing Quint’s community events, what she calls “the fun work”. This included launching and planning the annual Our Core Communities Shine events, numerous community BBQ’s, and anniversary celebrations.

Laverne’s impact is throughout all aspects of Quint’s programming and practices. Her legacy will be that of dedication, compassion, and perseverance, always fighting for the good of her community and the people in it. On behalf of the Quint staff, board of directors and the community at large, Laverne we are so thankful for your leadership and vision to bring Quint to reality. Your contributions will continue to transcend the 26 years you have committed to our west side core communities and beyond.

Happy Retirement!