My first contact with Community Living London (CLL) was in 1972 on a student placement at Scatcherd Children’s Centre, a day care centre operated by CLL. I was unsure of my career choice then, but one little boy in the centre helped me with my decision. He looked at me with big brown eyes. He was nonverbal and my job was to feed him. He would not open his mouth for me and I wondered if he understood I had food. His mother happened to come in at that point, spoke to him, and helped me by taking the spoon as he gladly opened his mouth for his mother. He knew I was a stranger, and at that moment I knew this was the career for me.
My career in Developmental Services spanned 43 years. In 2018, I retired from Fanshawe College after 30 years in the Developmental Services Worker Program (DSW). As a coordinator in the DSW program, I had the privilege of working with CLL. They are the largest placement agency for students in the DSW program and also have representation on the DSW Program Advisory Committee that helps with direction and advocacy for the program. CLL’s input and expertise is highly valued by Fanshawe’s DSW program.
I have continued my involvement in the DSW sector as a board member of Community Living London, legal guardian and friend to two people who have been part of my life for many years. You hear that people with disabilities enrich your life, but I have to add my families’ lives have been enriched as well. One woman who spends every holiday with my family has taught us about important life lessons. She is a survivor (she was institutionalized for many years), she enjoys life to its fullest, and she believes in herself and her ability to learn new things. She loves singing and has the incredible ability at family holidays to get all of us to sing with her.
CLL has been a leader both locally and provincially. They have been in the forefront of many important changes including the closure of institutions, the integration of people with disabilities in school and work, the growth of community alternatives, and the self-advocacy movement. CLL truly lives what they preach – all people belong.
Community Living London’s vision is to “Inspire Possibilities”. Volunteers may discover their career path like I did at CLL. I look back at how one little boy with big brown eyes changed my life.
Learn more about Community Living London