Stuart Parker has thrived after his graduation out of the formal education system thanks to the support of Community Living Central York.
“We don’t give people with developmental disabilities enough credit,” says Jim Alexander, a business owner who employs people from Community Living. “You never know what is possible until people are given the opportunity.”
Along with learning valuable life skills, he was given a new opportunity through Community Living’s Employment Strategies, a program that recognizes there is a clear benefit to both businesses and the community when everyone is given the chance to succeed. Here Stuart received the confidence and support he needed to earn a place of employment at a Mazda car dealership.
Today, Stuart is one of Community Living’s United Way ambassadors, speaking to local companies and associations about the agency’s work. He is a role model to his Community Living peers and proof that people with developmental disabilities can make a difference in our community.
Meanwhile, Stuart’s family is happy knowing that he is busy, employed and has good friends to rely on. “Community Living has given him the opportunity to be the best he can be,” says his mother, Susan. “Next to our family, it’s the biggest part of his life.”
A Haven For Life and Job Skill Development
The Employment Strategies program at Community Living gives individuals the support they need to earn a place of employment. Staff members actively seek out and build relationships with businesses that are a good fit. Community Living also helps with all on-site training until the new recruit feels comfortable and capable within their new working environment.
These jobs aren’t simply symbolic; the Employment Strategies program provides businesses with reliable, productive workers who fulfill a necessary role. By recognizing that everyone is capable and working within pre-existing skill sets, Employment Strategies puts people supported by Community Living in a position to succeed and provides a clear benefit to both businesses and the community.
For Jenny Treeby, the offer of a spot in Community Living’s Day Services program was, quite literally, life saving.
“There was an overwhelming feeling of joy and relief,” says Jenny’s father, Graeme. “I’m reminded each and every day of how fortunate we are to have found a placement at Community Living.”
Today, Jenny is thriving in Community Living’s day programs. Through participation in the Community Living literacy program her speech has increased dramatically and she’s much more outgoing. In particular, she enjoys participating in the music program, both through listening to and joining in on songs performed by the local musicians who volunteer their time.
The support from Community Living goes beyond Jenny; the entire Treeby family has benefited from an improved quality of family life. Knowing that their daughter is in a safe environment, Graeme and his wife Anne have been able to return to work on the family business that had been put on hold.
Even more importantly, the Treeby’s have been given the chance to enjoy time together as a family.
Helping Families Be Families
Community Living’s Programs help individuals establish their own independence by teaching important life skills such as budgeting, meal preparation and home maintenance.
After people supported by Community Living have been empowered with these necessary skills, they are given the opportunity to live in residential spaces, either in group settings or independently. This important work also gives families of developmentally disabled people well-deserved relief, allowing them to know their loved ones are safe and properly cared for.
As Matthew approached graduation, his mother decided after months of research that the best place for him was Community Living Central York.
“When Matthew was diagnosed with autism at age three, we worked with our doctor to get him into a preschool treatment program, remembers Marilyn Gray. The programs that followed throughout elementary and high school helped Matthew learn to cope with his social challenges and cognitive delays.”
Today Matthew has found his place of peace in the Community Living art program. Here he is given the opportunity to explore and create, both of which are key ingredients for unlocking imagination and ambition. This is an environment where he is challenged to reach his potential on a daily basis, earning critical experience and skills along the way.
“Matthew would have sat at home and played on the computer all day if we’d let him,” says Marilyn. “Getting him out into the community to learn valuable skills has helped him improve and become better able to function and contribute to society.”
Today Matthew is preparing to move out of the Gray home and into a supportive living space, with the continued help of Community Living.
Emily Wierenga’s journey with Community Living Central York began at age 22 when she enrolled in the Day Support Program. Since then, Emily has become the heart and soul of CLCY through her kindness, activism, and volunteer work.
“I was fortunate to be in day support and now that I’m able to give back, it gives me joy. I love giving back to a community that helped me.” – 2021 #RaiseYourHand Ambassador
Having been a member of CLCY since 2005, Emily has bared witness to the many changes the organization has gone through over the years, including new programming, new fundraising events, and a new building.
Emily’s favourite thing about Community Living is being with the staff and the many friends she’s made along the way. She’s also a huge music lover (especially The Eagles) and loves Music With Steve!
As a volunteer, Emily is passionate about her work in the CLCY literacy and current events program, where she helps to facilitate and help her peers.
The support from Community Living empowered Emily to seek employment, move into a place of her own, and develop new skills.
Today, Emily is living independently with a roommate, has developed a love for cooking, is working with the York Regional Police, and is serving as a #RaiseYourHand Ambassador for Community Living Central York.
Something For Everyone
The comprehensive day programs at Community Living provide an unmatched level of support that unlocks each individual’s potential for growth and accomplishment.
These programs cater to many different interests, teach practical life skills, establish lifelong friendships and strengthen feelings of independence and self-worth. This important work also gives families of developmentally disabled people well-deserved relief, allowing them to know their loved ones are safe and properly cared for.