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Community Living honours leaders at annual meeting

It is the first time in two years the event has been held in-person

Community Living Algoma honoured those who have supported and contributed to their communities over the last year at their annual meeting.

The awards included the Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Deborah Chadwick, a four-year member of the organization's council, who has advocated for those living with intellectual disability.

The Champion of Inclusion Award was presented to Oliver Smith, a grade five student at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, in Elliot Lake, as well.

A list fo honourees is included in the Community Living Algoma press release below.

After two years of virtual meetings, Community Living Algoma was able to host an in-person annual general meeting last night to celebrate enhanced business partnerships, an outstanding volunteer and a young champion who is paving the path to inclusion.

Held with the theme “Let Today Be the Start of Something New,” it was an opportunity for the organization to showcase the many positive achievements over the past year. It was a celebration of the many people supported who have moved, this past year, into community-based housing of their choice where they live independently with supports in place, as required. It was also a celebration of the action by businesses and people outside of the organization contributing towards ensured continuation of their Mission, Vision and Values.

The event, held last evening, drew over 40 attendees including people supported, staff, volunteers and area businesses.

“The past year, due to COVID, has presented us with some challenges, however, we have continued to make advances in ensuring that the people we support have had an active role in their life decisions,” said John Policicchio, Executive Director. “One of our biggest success stories has been the on-going movement of people supported into homes of their choice and them being an active voice and participant in this process.”

Policicchio expressed his appreciation to all the people to everyone for what was the second year of difficult and worrisome times due to COVID-10. He acknowledged, across the District of Algoma, the commitment to each other’s wellness for children, youth and adults who CLA supports and their families; communities across the District of Algoma; and CLA’s employees.

This evening also saw a number of awards presented to area businesses and their staff plus two individuals. Community Partner Awards’ recipients included: BDI Holdings Ltd. and Algoma Public Health. These recipients are organizations who build and contribute to a culture of inclusion, a community of acceptance and respect for all people.

The partnership between CLA and BDI started with a housing development of a semidetached home on Wellington St. From this success, it moved towards units leased at St Theresa’s Villa on Ruth Street and, most recently, three units within the St. Ann’s Villa on White Oak Drive. This collaboration enabled both CLA and BDI to learn more on how they can customize accommodations depending on the needs of each person supported. This partnership also enabled CLA to have a hands-on involvement, literally from the ground up, in everything from developing drawings for design, accessibility, selecting paint colours and fixtures. The continued trust of this partnership has further extended to BDI being responsive landlords in ensuring properties are safe and well- maintained.

Algoma Public Health (APH) was nominated for their responsiveness, directives and guidance to Community Living Algoma in navigating COVID-19 – for both the health and safety of people supported as well as employees. APH held an instrumental role in assisting CLA through various protocols and changes in directives that, in early days, were happening several times a day. From answering questions, to assisting with updating the organization’s screening processes, to walking alongside CLA in outbreak situations, APH provided a steady support that has played an integral part of CLA’s overall pandemic planning.

The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Deborah Chadwick, who is a four-year member of the council for Community Living Algoma. Deborah was recognized for her strong commitment to Community Living Algoma’s Mission, Vision and Values. In addition, her passion to advocate for others with an intellectual disability to have a voice and to reach their full potential was also highlighted. Deborah’s positivity and determination helps us all remember why we are here and why we must continue to make changes to enrich quality of life for all people.

The Champion of Inclusion Award was presented to Oliver Smith, a grade five student at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, in Elliot Lake. Oliver was the recipient of an award,

this past spring, in CLA’s “Together We’re Better” contest. The annual contest recognizes how inclusion is happening in schools in the District of Algoma and Oliver was nominated by a member of his support team for his successful efforts in launching a Games Club for students in grade three to five. His commitment has created a place where students could interact and engage with peers in a fun, inclusive environment.

Although Principal Andrew Chi, of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, was unable to attend in-person, he sent a message that was read to the attendees about how far-reaching Oliver’s efforts have been across the community of Elliot Lake.

"Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School is very proud with the initiative and efforts put forth by Oliver Smith. In creating a games club at our school through the support of Community Living Algoma he has made a place and group where students can collaborate and have lots of fun while learning,” says Andrew Chi, Principal. “The feedback and participation for this program has been tremendous and Oliver spearheading and continuing to organize this group has been a great asset to the school community. Oliver is a very creative and inventive student with so many talents and we are excited to continue to see the positive impact he has on our school community and the community of Elliot Lake.”

Community Living Algoma provides supports and services to more than 720 people in the Algoma District who have intellectual disabilities or are on the autism spectrum. Community Living Algoma is committed to the advancement of a community in which all people are recognized as full citizens; achieve personal dignity; enjoy the benefits and responsibilities of independence and are supported to reach their full potential.