Our Story

Making a home

Like so many community-based service providers, the Garth Homer Society got its start through the initiative of families. In 1960, a Victoria mother named Phyllis Sutton formed the Arbutus Arts and Craft Society to meet the needs of her two developmentally disabled adult children and their friends.

In 1968, at the urging of community leader Garth Homer, the Executive Director of the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, Arbutus Arts and Crafts joined with other family-driven groups to develop an activity centre for adults with disabilities. 

Garth passed away in 1976. The Garth Homer Centre, named in his honour, opened in 1977 as the permanent home for the Garth Homer Society – the organization that emerged from the collaboration of the smaller agencies.

While the Garth Homer Centre was originally built to house sheltered workshops for crafts, woodworking, chair caning and mail processing, it evolved over the years to meet today’s diverse and complex care needs of adults with developmental disabilities.

Serving, building, adapting

Over the years, the expectations of clients and their families have changed. And, for the first time in human history, a whole generation of adults with developmental disabilities is living into old age, creating demands for service innovation that we have not seen before. In addition, autism is quickly replacing Down syndrome as the most common disability of our younger clients.

After nearly four decades, the Garth Homer Society continues its commitment to help those we serve. As their needs change, the society is creating innovative strategies to meet these challenges:

We serve a rapidly changing group of younger clients with different disabilities and expectations. Our services are expanding to provide lifelong learning supports and curriculum.

We are working on a capital redevelopment project to provide the residential services needed to let us continue and improve our support of clients reaching old age.

We are adapting our existing community inclusion programs for clients with higher needs so we can better serve them and accommodate the health problems associated with multiple or complex disabilities.