Port Colborne Anchors Away Support Services Wins One of Four FirstOntario Credit Union 1 Awards

Sometimes winning an award can shine a light on a particular company.

FirstOntario Credit Union’s 1Awards have celebrated 40 companies over the past decade.

Anchors Away Support Services of Port Colborne was named one of four winners this year.

The winners shared nearly $200,000 in cash and in-kind professional services.

Through the competition over the past 10 years, FirstOntario and 1Awards partners have invested $1.8 million in the small business landscape of Hamilton, Halton, Brant and Niagara.

Kim Simons and her husband Brandon Simons are the directors of Anchors Away.

“We support people with developmental disabilities in and around Port Colborne,” Kim said.

She said Anchors Away has a day program as well as other individual supports. It also helps clients apply for government funding to help pay for the services they need.

She said her husband started a day program in 2015. It started as a men’s club. She joined in 2019 and they expanded the group in 2020 to include women.

Before the expansion, she said, they only had three staff members. Today they employ 17 people.

Kim said they support 120 people, with some customers using multiple services while others might only use one.

One of their latest projects is a cooking class. Several members have expressed interest in learning to cook, so they’re getting together now and deciding what they’ll learn each time.

“We do a lot of recreational things,” she said.

Kim and Brandon Simons are no strangers to the field. He previously worked for a school and she worked for Community Living.

They plan to use some of the prize money they want to expand their space to have more room for people to come during the day, she said.

“We want art therapy and music therapy to be included in the services we provide,” she said. “This grant goes toward that goal.”

She said other in-kind services they had received – such as waiving their bank charges, consultations with lawyers or help with advertising – were “more than money”.

Kim said she also made connections she could turn to if she needed advice.

Joanne Battaglia, FirstOntario’s Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Community Partnerships, said, “There are so many unique businesses in our regions working hard to succeed.

“The 1Awards competition brings real value to our local businesses a decade later thanks to the continued commitment of our community partners who continue to volunteer their time, services and expertise,” said Battaglia.

Partners – who added additional prizes after this year’s presentations – include Agro Zaffiro LLP, Giant Shoe, KPMG, Mohawk College, PLAY, The Hamilton Spectator and Weever. Other partners include The Thornton Group, Global Payments, Carmen’s Group and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

To learn more about Anchors Away support services, visit Anchorsaway.ca. To learn more about the organization’s Anchor Club day program, visit the organization’s page.