Celebrating May as “Community Living Month” helps raise awareness for an organization that sometimes is overlooked.
“It's an opportunity to put us at the forefront,” said Kim LePine, manager of community support services for Community Living Fort Frances.
The work Community Living does to assist and improve the lives of people who have disabilities sometimes goes under the radar, she noted.
“It's not one of those things where we're always on the spotlight,” she remarked.
“We're in people's homes, we're at Safeway, at the bank just doing what we need to do to help people get through their day and support them so they are safe, happy, and feel like a part of the community.”
To mark the month, the local offices of Community Living, located at 336-340 Scott St., are being lit up at night with Community Living's colours (green and blue) as part of Community Living Ontario's “Shine the Light Campaign.”
“Community Living Month" is about "shining a light on Community Living so people can see what we do, why we're important, and the important role that we have,” LePine said.
The organization is trying to improve the quality of life for those who access their services, by helping them overcome challenges and making them active citizens of the community.
It hosts group outings with their clients, where they attend community events or even just go out for dinner on Friday nights.
“We try to go to a lot of community events and we also provide some of our own,” LePine noted.
“It's an opportunity to meet other people and have a really good time.”
Without Community Living, LePine said the lives of people with disabilities who access their services would be very different.
She said the organization is providing its clients with the opportunities to make friends, be out in the community, and live a normal life.
One of LePine's favourite aspect of working at Community Living is attending the dinners, dances, and events where “you really get to see people interacting and having fun.”
But what makes her job so worthwhile, she says, is “seeing the difference you make.”
“When you see happiness," she enthused. "When you walk into someone's house and they've got the biggest smile on their face.”
The relationships that staff build with the people they serve through Community Living is another aspect of the job LePine finds rewarding.
“I've known some of these people longer than I've known some of my family members,” she remarked.
To celebrate the month, Community Living is hosting a barbecue at the next Rainy Lake Square next Friday (May 18) from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
“We want to have some fun and that's why we're doing this celebration,” LePine enthused.
The organization is bringing in live music for the event while Community Living staff will be educating those on hand about the work they do.
“We're excited to celebrate the month," LePine said. "Come and enjoy if you're downtown [that day].”