Providing Foster Care Since 1996
Where it all started
There is a personal background and history with our agency which makes our program very special.
William and Hilda Wilson, the founders of Annie’s Havens, have an intimate knowledge of the challenges inherent in caring for a child with special needs because of a personal tragedy that befell their family in 1989. William and Hilda’s daughter, Annie, suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage during surgery. As a consequence of this she was left with severe quadra paresis. They embarked on learning and doing everything possible to have Annie regain, what she could, of her physical abilities. Annie was an intelligent child who was able to communicate through use of her right arm and the blinking of her eyes and/or with the use of a programmable verbal switch. They advocated for and successfully accomplished Annie’s integration into her local school in which she did extremely well at an age appropriate level.
Through this experience and the day-to-day problems William and Hilda encountered in providing Annie with her special needs, they acquired a vast body of knowledge.
They also came to command great respect from professionals and leaders in the field while accessing medical, therapeutic and educational services as well as developing strong advocacy skills. With these skills in hand, along with the experience in working with children with special needs since 1988, William and Hilda decided to fill a need in the community for respite and residential services for children and adults.
William and Hilda have provided foster care to a large number of children with special needs in Eastern and Southern Ontario since the mid-nineties.
Because of Annie, her brother Chris who works at Annie’s Havens, has a background of deep understanding of special needs care along with an unbreakable emotional attachment. Sadly, Annie passed away in 1997 but she inspired everyone who came incontact with her and her life – and this resulted in one of Ontario’s most unique and meaningful foster care programs.
Our agency, Annie’s Havens Ltd. was named in her memory with Robert Wilson as our first Executive Director who has since retired.
Meet the founders and team members at Annie’s Havens
William (Bill) is a co-founder of Annie’s Havens and the Ontario Residential Care Association (formerly the Foster Care Operators Association of Ontario). He currently serves as our Executive Director.
His work with the provincial foster care association helped guide policy affecting the child welfare sector. While retired from his position at the association, he still offers advice to other Ontario foster care operators.
“We always need to ask ourselves what kind of care we want for our own children. Then we need to apply those same thoughts to the kids coming into Annie’s Havens when they are at their most vulnerable.”
— William Wilson
Hilda is a co-founder of Annie’s Havens. She has served in many roles such as foster parent, Program Supervisor, Resource Worker and Placement Coordinator for over 20 years.
She spent countless nights at the side of her daughter while she was undergoing numerous medical treatments across southern Ontario. Her steadfastness and knowledge of special needs children is among the top in Ontario’s child welfare sector.
“Special needs children need a strong advocate. Services are scarce and if you don’t speak loudly and strongly enough then there will be missed opportunities. We must be those advocates every single day.”
— Hilda Wilson
Chris has worked with Annie’s Havens since 2008 starting as an administrator. He filled in as Acting Executive Director for a period and now serves as our Program Supervisor.
He has had foster brothers and sisters since he was a young boy. Having that sibling relationship with foster children taught him the nuances of what they face. Knowing that children need more than services, that they need real care has always been on the top of his mind.
“Kids in care are still kids. We use so many labels that sometimes we forget that we’re dealing with young people who need guidance and love. I’m proud to be a part of Annie’s Havens and proud of our loving foster parents.”
— Chris Wilson