As we close off a year of celebration and reflection on our 60-year anniversary as an organization, we are thankful for the ongoing support of individuals, families, and our community partners. I am struck however, by the long standing involvement and support by one particular family that has been kind enough to share their journey.
I would like to share with you some remarks Alasdair McKichan made at our Annual General Meeting earlier this year:
“I am here today to reminisce about Community Living Mississauga’s early days and share a few significant milestones in commemoration of its 60th anniversary.
Our daughter, Bente, was born with Down Syndrome and suffered from circulation problems. She was almost two years old when we moved to the Toronto-area with her health and overall well-being being our top priority.
Nina, my late wife, and I decided to move to Mississauga in 1964 when we learned about Community Living Mississauga. The organization’s forward-thinking approach and the services it provided to individuals who have an intellectual disability were ideally suited to enhance Bente’s quality of life.
As we settled into our new community, we quickly became more involved and Nina inquired about a pre-school nursery program for our little girl. She explored this opportunity and just a few days later, was to be a member of the Steering Committee to set-up a nursery school in the area. Nina was thrilled to help and they established a nursery school, which successfully opened its doors two days a week to children who had an intellectual disability at Cooksville United Church.
In the early days, sheltered workshops, residential homes, weekend programs, summer day camps and support groups for parents and caregivers were tested and then formalized once they achieved success. In later years, Community Living Mississauga evolved and supported smaller living arrangements such as town houses and apartments to offer individuals living there increased integration opportunities into communities.
A key milestone in our growth was recognizing the advantages of integration into the community and Community Living Mississauga restructured to offer its employees new training and development opportunities to address the needs of individuals who have an intellectual disability as a primary focus.
As a parent member, I can attest to Bente’s happiness and great sense of security living in just two homes throughout her life. Today, she is confident and has a special friendship with her two roommates and the dedicated staff who have supported her over the last thirty years.
You are the reason our organization has evolved from its early beginnings to the very proficient organization it is today. Thank you wholeheartedly for your past support of the organization and all the individuals whose lives have been touched and enriched as a result.”
Perhaps your own child or someone you know and love was also supported by our organization and this was your reason to give. Whatever your reason, thank you again! Your gifts are truly helping individuals who have an intellectual disability receive the best supports and services possible.
I am writing to you today to ask if you’ll support us once again and make your special holiday gift of $50, $75, $125 or a special monthly gift. Your donation will help us to continue enhancing the lives of so many.
There is still work to do and our greatest challenge is to advocate to government to endorse adequate funding that will allow many more children and adults who have an intellectual disability to experience independent living. Please help with your gift today.
Thank you for your support of Community Living Mississauga. I wish you and your loved ones a restful and joyous holiday season.
President-Community Living Mississauga