The Rehabilitation Society of Southwestern Alberta is a non-profit, charitable organization founded in 1953 as “The Rehabilitation Society of Alberta for the Handicapped, Lethbridge Branch.” Its primary emphasis was to increase public awareness of the needs of people with disabilities, and provide a way in which disabled citizens could share their common concerns, and jointly relate their needs to appropriate government agencies and organizations.
In 1965 the name was changed to “The Rehabilitation Society of Lethbridge” and became incorporated under the Societies Act. The objective of the Society remained to cooperate with other associations to establish services for persons with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Society also recognized the need for a vocational setting to develop work habits and skills. In 1974, the Society changed its name to “The Rehabilitation Society of Southwestern Alberta.”
The Society continues to operate at 1610 29th Street North in a building constructed in 1981 to provide a vocational setting. This building now provides many different environments in which people are supported in a variety of ways. It also continues to be the main bottle depot site and, woodworking site. It also has a small customized buttons and magnets operation.
Since that time, services have evolved. Where once it supported large groups of people doing mostly facility-based vocational activities, the Society now provides highly individualized community-based opportunities.
Since 1994, the Society has provided support for people in finding and maintaining community employment. The Employment Supports Service is now based out of JobLinks Employment Centre, in downtown Lethbridge at 416 Eighth Street South. The downtown building was purchased by the Society in 1998 to accommodate a branch bottle depot and a section of client services.
In 2005, Employment Supports renamed its service JobLinks Employment Centre to reflect the expansion into supporting a more diverse client base. JobLinks provides citizens with barriers to employment with employment skill exploration, employment acquisition and maintenance support through contracted funding with several departments of the provincial government.
As the Society identifies gaps in services or unmet community needs, it develops new services to address those needs. The most recent team developed is LIFE/Outreach (Learning, Independence, Freedom and Employment). It focuses on supporting young adults with disabilities to develop a high level of independence, preparation for employment or post-secondary education, and outreach service hours beyond typical weekdays. LIFE is an off-site service of the Ability Resource Centre, located in a leased space in downtown Lethbridge.
A core belief of the Society is to continually improve to provide the best quality services. In order to ensure we continue to meet high standards of service delivery and health and safety, the Society maintains Accreditation through Alberta Council of Disability Services (ACDS) and maintains a Certificate of Recognition (COR) through Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships.