Agassiz Harrison Community Services’ new executive director Grace Admiraal had visited Harrison Hot Springs from her home in the Netherlands when she and her husband decided that if they ever moved to Canada, Harrison would be their first choice for a home.
After spending many years working for the Dutch ministry of social affairs and employment as the chief cabinet and process manager, Admiraal decided to make the move.
“It is such a beautiful country. It’s such a beautiful province,” she said. “The community members, the people are nice. We have 36 million people in Canada… Netherlands is about the size of Vancouver Island and 18 million people [live there.]”
Admiraal quickly began working with AHCS, starting as a facilitator for the self-employment program in April 2009. Soon she was the administrator for the youth inclusion program, and for nearly a year acted as executive director before becoming the director of operations for family services.
Now, taking over the role of executive director permanently, Admiraal says one of her biggest goals is to maintain current programs.
“I find it an honour and a challenge to take this very important responsibility on for these communities,” she said. “I am fortunate to have already established relationships with the founders and stakeholders and I’m definitely building those further and extending those relationships with them to get the proper support for our community.”
Family work has always been important to Admiraal.
“Families are the cornerstone of our society and they come in all shapes and sizes,” she said. “It is amazing how people are involved here and [feel] for their communities.”