Community Living Prince Edward recently brought together more than 180 community members for its fourth annual Inspiring Possibilities Celebration barbecue at the Elks Lodge Hall in Picton.
People and families supported by the organization, employees, partners and volunteers gathered for food and toe-tapping live music by The Desperados.
Community Living Executive Director Susan Treverton noted the celebration was long overdue because of COVID-19 restrictions. She welcomed guest speakers Adam Bramburger, constituency assistant with Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson, and Jo-Anne Demick, stakeholder relations director for Community Living Ontario.
“Together, we’re supporting people to make each day a good one,” said Treverton. “What’s most important is that each person has daily opportunities for employment, education, volunteerism, social roles, recreation and friendships. We see this come to life as people are engaged in education, are employed for real work for real pay, volunteer and give, have social roles, enjoy recreational and leisure experiences as well as strengthen their natural support networks. It’s what we all want and expect from our everyday lives and what we help deliver by championing Inclusion.”
An important part of the celebration was recognizing support provided by individuals and teams over the past year. To that end, six awards were presented to local community partners, volunteers and employees.
Linda Conley was recognized as the Arielle Welsh Volunteer of the Year. For more than 35 years - including eight as president, Conley has been a steadfast board member and active champion of inclusion throughout Prince Edward County.
It was noted Conley is one of Community Living Prince Edward’s strongest advocates and cheerleaders and deeply believes organization’s work to build a better future where anything is possible. She’s been a coach, mentor and champion and has helped build a community in the County where everyone belongs. Her helping hand, words of advice and a listening ear are deeply appreciated.
The Giant Tiger Picton team was celebrated as Employer of the Year for active demonstration of an inclusive work environment. For years, Giant Tiger has been a community partner and over the past 12 months, Jen Manager has championed employment opportunities at the store, going above and beyond to think outside the box to offer accommodations for a cash trained employee. She started working alongside the Youth in Transition team offered a co-op placement to a student interested in becoming employed when she graduated. The student was able to work at her own pace and practice skills she would need to become employed. It was noted Manager is a patient employer and has an open mind and a welcoming personality. Thanks to her dedication to ensuring an inclusive workplace, she and the Giant Tiger team have provided many co-op placements and employment opportunities for people to build skills and succeed in long and short-term employment.
The Huff Family Fund’s grant to Improving Your Life Through Technology program was recognized as Contributor of the Year. This initiative provided more than 20 people with the ability to purchase assistive devices and tools specific to individual goals. People gained new skills, increased their independence and gained greater control over their life, decision making, homes, environments as well as within the community. Grant recipient AK received a magnifying glass that attaches to her laptop, a calming program and a timer - devices that have allowed AK to become more self-aware and independent as well as gain the confidence to try new things. Dominique Jones, executive director of The County Foundation accepted the award on behalf of the Huff Family Fund.
Meanwhile, H.J. McFarland Memorial Home was awarded the Community Partner of the Year award for inspiring possibilities, promoting inclusion, creating opportunities for people Community Living serves, and through their actions, demonstrated value, equality, dignity and respect. It was noted Kylie Moyer, volunteer coordinator, went out of her way to rekindle an existing partnership. She has individualized the volunteer program, providing opportunities for many long-term volunteer roles, high school placements and Try-it Days through the Students at Work initiative. Suzanne Turner, volunteer, runs the Tuck Cart, a valued role and one that fills her passion and heart. Suzanne co-presented the award to H.J. McFarland Memorial Home.
The Inspiring Possibilities for Children and Youth Award was presented to Jaime Parr, learning support teacher and instructional lead teacher in special education at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute (PECI) in Picton. Over the past year at PECI, Jamie facilitated more individualized programming strategies for youth, accessed specialized services and resources to help with transition planning as well as created new solutions to help youth be successful. Working with our Youth in Transition Services, Jamie facilitated Ambassadors for Inclusion training in 18 classes from kindergarten to grade 12. Passionate about inclusion, diversity and the value of belonging, the award recognized her contributions for inspiring possibilities for local children and youth.
The Dennis Markland Employee Team of the Year was presented to a team who, through hard work, dedication and commitment emulated all that Dennis was and contributed. The Youth in Transition team of Ashley Card and Brandy-Lee Wilkes developed countless inspiring possibilities and new service delivery options such as Game On, Gear-Up to a Home of My Own, Students at Work and Break Away Days.
It as noted they were instrumental in facilitating Ambassadors for Inclusion Training in local schools and expanding this training to Loyalist College this fall. Many people have obtained paid employment as a direct result of the supports this team provides. Local employers include Wander the Resort, Hartley’s Tavern, Giant Tiger, Starbucks, The Bulk Barn and Prince Edward Learning Centre to name just a few. Dennis’s sister Jackie Markland and his three sons Cade, Britain and Jonathan were on hand to present this award to the team.