Living The Good Life - Family Homes
Living The Good Life:
A community is made of many different people with varying abilities, personalities and backgrounds. A community is much more than a geographic location with houses, institutions, shops and places of employments. Caring and belonging and inclusion make community truly special. There is a special program operated by Community Living Association that is based on caring, belonging and inclusion that has been operating for more than 20 years and helps families host people with intellectual disability to experience the true sense of family and community. Community Living Association’s Family Home Program matches people with intellectual disabilities with families who want to connect with other people to provide a caring environment where people feel valued and included in family and community life. Barbara Dillon and Gordie’s story is a heart-warming story that exemplifies the most endearing and enduring Canadian values. Twenty years ago, Barbara moved into a town house in Almonte with her son and daughter aged 10 and 12 years. Gordie Wilson lived in a group home next door. “I remember it like it was yesterday when my son first met Gordie. A great friendship soon bloomed and they are still friends to this day,” reminisced Barbara with a great deal of fondness and comfort in that memory. “My kids grew up with Gordie recognizing his abilities and not limiting or defining their relationship by Gordie’s disability. Gordie became part of the neighbourhood gang of boys. If they weren’t playing hockey or other games, they were hanging out at my place. It was so heart-warming to witness all the kids accepting and including Gordie in their activities and to witness the joy that Gordie got from “hanging out” with the boys,” exclaimed Barbara. When Barbara bought her new home in 2006 Gordie was invited to join the Dillon family. Community Living Association was approached to facilitate the move and to help fund the additional cost of having Gordie become part of the family through its Host Family Program. Gordie was always an important part of the family but this made it more official and formal with a third party committed to their success. When Barbara’s daughter and family moved out of the house into their own place, Gordie and Barbara were left alone. “Soon he began expressing an interest in having a “buddy” join our family: Gord and I waited a long time to find just the right person to invite into our family. ”Gordie had become a part of the family and having his approval was important. After meeting Julien Post and ensuring that he was a good fit for our family, Gordie and Barbara welcomed him with open arms in 2013. It has been a great fit and Barbara, Gordie and Julien have truly become a family. Julien and Gordie have not only found a family but they are an active and engaged in their community. Gordie is a regular visitor at the Almonte Arena and is an avid supporter of local hockey. He is also an active Civitan member. Julien is very well connected in his community and has many friends. Gordie, Julien and Barbara are truly a family; they like one another and enjoy spending time together but, like all families, they also have their difference. But their bonds and mutual trust and respect allow them to resolve their issues. “I love living with Barbara and Gordie! I like living here rather than alone!” exclaims Julien “This is home sweet home. I love Barbara, she is awesome” says Gordie. “It is difficult sometimes but I couldn’t imagine living without either one of them.” Barbara exclaims with obvious fondness. Barbara Dillon has made a difference in these men’s lives and has provided a real family for both Gordie and Julien. The Family Home Program has allowed two people with intellectual disabilities to experience family and become an important part of their community. Barbara will be the first one to tell you that she benefits as much or more from this relationship. She could not imagine her family without Gordie or Julien. Community Living Association is currently recruiting homes for 5 to 10 people with intellectual disabilities. If you want to make difference in some one’s life and you believe that there is a fit for you please call 613-257-8040, extension 25 and speak to the Manager of Family Homes. Or visit our website www.clalanark.ca.