Lorne Sossins first encounter with Reena, like many people, was through family. “Our daughter Rachel received services as a child and participated in programs that connected her with community and others and gave our family a sense of connection and belonging as well that we have always treasured.” One of his most memorable moments, says Sossin, was the first time he and his wife brough their daughter to the Toby and Henry Battle Development Centre for a camp program, “We walked into the building, and you could hear basketballs bouncing and laughter from the gym, and there were people gathering for a birthday party in one part of the building and a class going on in another room. And it was just a wonderful sense of belonging. The minute we walked through those doors it felt like everyone was there for us…. we could be ourselves in a way that wasn’t true for most settings we walked into. The sense of inclusion and belonging and family from the first second we walked into that place is something I will remember for a long time.”  

Sossin says he and his wife got to know Reena first, as parents, and he was impressed by what he saw. “The notion that every single person who receives services from Reena of any kind, no matter the medical or cognitive complexity is treated with dignity and is approached as someone with their own wishes, their own hopes, their own autonomy. And that notion of dignity that comes from treating every individual as an individual, to me, is what defines Reena, its distinctiveness, and why so many people have been drawn to it over so many years and why it’s such a pleasure to be a small connection to this terrific organization.” Sossin was a Law professor at the time and worked on some legal arrangements of accountability of service providers in the disability services field which led to a meeting with Reena Executive Director Sandy Keshen, “I interviewed her for that project about how developmental services were organized and funded, and I was just blown away by her passion, her commitment, her relentlessness in building up a community and getting the resources needed and the supports needed, and I was hooked. There are very few people I have met to whom I could never say no, and Sandy Keshen is one of those people.” Sossin joined the Reena Board becoming Chair from 2015-17.   

During his time on the Board, Sossin says he tried to make sure Board members saw Reena in action. “Not just calling into a meeting and getting materials,” says Sossin, “but feeling touched by the place. I made sure meetings were at Reena sites and got staff and Reena supported individuals present at meetings.”  

While Sossins time with the Reena Board was a time of great growth for Reena with the Fruitman Community Residence in the early stages of coming together, Sossin says the need far exceeds supply even as Reena grows. Managing growth and making sure family’s needs are met with intention are his wishes for Reena and, “Many more years of success, of being able to bring so many invaluable services to so many people and build more homes and create and innovate in more ways to meet the needs that are so desperately unmet. 

By the time Sossin left the board he was Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and has since been appointed a Judge. Despite, or maybe because of his busy professional life, Sossin calls his time at Reena, “a respite from a lot the things that take up your day that are not rewarding.” Since becoming a Judge Lorne Sossin has had to limit his involvement with the organization but says Reena is always close to his heart. “We should never lose sight of why Reena was created…it was created by families for families and its, of course, become a family to so many of those who played roles within it or been touched by it.”