Celebrating community living at Spirit Square

Friends and family gathered at Spirit Square in Williams Lake last week to celebrate Community Living Month.

Angie Mindus

Staff Writer

It may have been a cold and dreary day outside Tuesday, but the mood at Spirit Square was anything but as clients, friends and family gathered to celebrate Community Living Month.

“It’s the only place I can walk in a room and 15 people come up and love me unconditionally,” said Donna Milner of why she regularly volunteers her time at the local Summit Opportunity Centre in Williams Lake to help with the chime group The Blue Notes.

“That’s pretty great, you can’t find that anywhere else.”

Milner was on hand Tuesday while more than a dozen members of Blue Notes happily performed their songs for staff and family associated with the Williams Lake Association for Community Living (WLACL), including residential co-ordinator for Community Living Susan Means.

“We want people to know we’re here, we’re strong and we are happy to serve the people of Williams Lake,” said Means of the celebration, who acknowledged the challenges of cutbacks to the program.

“The people we serve deserve the services we have to offer, and we want to be there for them.”

The association is mandated to offer critical support and services in the community for adults with developmental disabilities.

Trisha Deboer and her new baby Owen were at the event to support her big brother Kerry, who is a client of WLACL.

“It’s definitely shaped my life growing up with a brother with special needs,” said Deboer.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to spend time with some special people.”

Deboer said events like the one held this week and Community Living in general helps people understand more about others with disabilities, while also helping those who access its services intermingle with society.

She added that her brother’s favourite times of the week are when he has his chime practice.

WLACL board member Ed Kozuki said events like the barbecue are needed to create inclusion, “so everyone feels like they are an important part of the community.”