About Us

A Brief History Of The SAM Program


The idea for such a group grew from the experience of staff at a rehabilitation centre. Individuals would struggle to reach an optimum level of progress. On being discharged, they were likely to regress without the structure of a regular challenge.

Thus, in 1981 with a New Horizons federal grant, the SAM Program came into being with the first site, SAM Central. Set in the context of a Senior's Centre, it had many advantages ~ accessibility, interested and supportive neighbours, central location.

The value of such an Adult Day Program soon was recognized, and referrals continued to increase.


East Hamilton had no such program in operation. Thus, in 1986 efforts were made to establish a second SAM site. This would have the effect of reducing the travel time for east-end clients.

Firstly, in St. Helen's Separate School, in the lively atmosphere of children, and latterly in the Church of the Nativity, the SAM East site has grown. The peaceful setting of the Mother House of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Waterdown became home for the third site for SAM. Familiarly known as SAM Flam this location was able to accept clients from Burlington as well as Hamilton.

A grant was received to open a fourth site in Ancaster - another under served area. For a full year in 2000 this site flourished in the Morgan Firestone Centre. Funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Division was not forthcoming, and this site was forced to close. Ancaster still lacks an Adult Day Program.

The SAM Program with other agencies/service providers identified the need for a program to meet the needs of clients with aphasia. In September 2006 the SAM Program in partnership with the Hamilton Stroke Strategy and Community Rehab established a pilot project of SAM Aphasia Programs in each of it's three locations. Clients with aphasia are socially isolated due to their inability to communicate with others. The SAM Aphasia Program has been created to help clients with aphasia to better engage with the community in which they live.


As the staff continued to learn and develop programs, they realized that they had valuable information to share. Two excellent resource manuals have been produced ~ Stimulate Activate Motivate in 1993 and The Intergenerational Way in 1998. These continue to sell very well. In 2005 the SAM Program received a Trillium Grant to produce and publish SAM S.T.E.P.S To Exercise, a resource manual and DVD which was launched in October 2006.

Unique Features

The SAM Administration Office supports three program sites. Each site has a multi-disciplinary staff team comprised of a Registered Nurse, Therapeutic Recreationist and Social Service Worker.


The original Executive Director, Lynne Edwards had honed and expanded her skills in dealing with bureaucracy, in applying for grants and in gaining recognition in the Long Term Care Division milieu. All these have worked for the benefit of the program.  Trish Balardo took over the position of Executive Director in January 2009 when Lynne retired.

Many of our staff have been with us for long periods, providing a sense of familiarity and continuity to our clients and their families.

Clients are referred into the program by the HNHB CCAC. Professional staff monitor the status of the clients closely and offer counselling e.g. medical, nutritional, social, etc., as necessary. They work closely with families, physicians and other involved services to provide an integrated service to both the client and to the community.

Muriel Leith, founder and first chairperson of the SAM Program, had the vision and worked tirelessly to see it to reality! Several Board members operated Specially Smart Clothing, an adaptive clothing shop and donated it's proceeds on closing to our Fundraising Account.

Other Board members have offered their time, skills and interest as clients or client family members, as representatives from SAM sites, or from their fields of expertise ~ administration, finance, Long Term Care and senior's health.

The dedicated, cooperative effort of all these people has produced a valuable asset to our community.

The SAM Program Goals and Objectives initiated when the program was established have proven to well outline the intentions of our Board and staff.

SAM Program Goals & Objectives

  • Provide an environment that supports the capacities of the SAM clients
  • Develop Individual Program Plans for each participant
  • Liaise with families, physicians and other involved services
  • Advise and make appropriate referrals on health care, nutrition and other support services
  • Improve physical fitness and general well being
  • Reduce isolation and loneliness through the opportunity for social contact and interpersonal relations
  • Provide an adequate variety of activities to enhance or maintain mental and physical health
  • Provide the opportunity for pleasure and enjoyment
  • Provide supervision and encouragement allowing participants to function as independently and individually as possible
  • Provide the opportunity for individuals to participate in the choice and development of activities
  • Provide respite for caregivers