An agency like Community Living Trent Highlands has a unique and interesting job, although it may sound like a wonky business model — because our main goal is to be no longer needed.
Our work with families, children, youth, and adults living with a developmental disability is centered on the needs of each and how they can be supported to reach their full potential and goals. We endeavour to walk alongside families and understand what barriers exist and where bridges need to be built.
A key focus in that work is to make connections with what exists in the community. One great story I heard was of a woman that wanted to give back and learn about cooking who was supported by her staff person to help out at a local soup kitchen. The staff person and she would arrive and soon learned the ropes and the woman really enjoyed the placement.
After a few weeks the other volunteers pulled the employee aside and said that if there was other work that she needed to do she could go, she was not really needed here. The woman who had set her sights on this connection was now being included by the group of volunteers and staff support was no longer needed. The help that she needed to participate was being offered by the other volunteers, as it would be for others who needed some help.
It is true that many of the individuals that we support will need supports ongoing, but they can fluctuate as connections are made, they can ebb and flow as needs change and goals are revised and re-dreamed.
We work hard in our planning to try to minimize whenever we can and make introductions and paths to community groups, jobs, volunteer positions and recreation. It is a work in progress, but community is stronger and more rich when everyone is involved and giving their gifts to the whole.
Community Living Trent Highlands is at work in three communities: Peterborough, Haliburton and the City of Kawartha Lakes. We work closely with many active community partners, other agencies, employers, churches, social groups, sports groups and learning communities.
In each partner and community we are looking for volunteer, learning, employment and recreational opportunities for people to become involved in their community. And we strive continuously to have people so connected that we can find others to help as we are no longer needed. Quite unlike a for profit industry, our work is done best when we are completely out of work.