Our History

The Okanagan Mental Health Service Society (OMHSS) was formed by Larry Vandergrift in 2001. The society began with a vision to combat the stigmatism of mental illness, and to offer a helping hand to those who struggle, often in silence. It began with 2 programs: 1) Yard By Yard – lawn and garden maintenance, forestry site development and maintenance, outhouse construction, and tree care; and 2) Assisted Living Program – which began by opening two homes as a pilot project for the BC government. OMHSS now operates five assisted living homes.

In 2004, OMHSS introduced Coral Residence and Room By Room to the organization. Coral Residence is a short-term, 10 bed intensive rehabilitative support residence that is staffed 24 hours a day. This home is for individuals who have just been discharged from the hospital and need extra support. Room By Room was modelled after it’s brother program Yard By Yard. It was designed to support those who are interested in gaining skills related to janitorial work.  The Room By Room program allows individuals to gain experience in residential, commercial, and strata developments.

In 2011 we began to expand the Therapeutic Work Program to include Vocational Planning Services (VPS). VPS offers job coaching to individuals who have outgrown the training program, and are ready to join the mainstream work force. During this time we have discovered that even though individuals have gained work skills and confidence, it would be much more beneficial to be able to offer employment placements, or job shadowing opportunities in the community, where they as well as employers have our support for a time. We are now seeking to partner with businesses, or individuals, in the Kelowna area who could provide employment, and work together with our society to support our clients with sustaining meaningful employment.

Please contact us for more information.