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Celebrating Community Living Month


ROBIN VAN VER VLEUTEN The Standard


NORTH DURHAM: Tony Clayton and Suzy Hall, members of the Community Living Durham North Day Program, were on hand to raise the flag, at the Township of Scugog, on Wednesday, May 1st, honouring May as Community Living Month.

Community Living Durham North (CLDN), an organization which encompasses the townships of Scugog, Uxbridge & Brock, has operated in North Durham for more than 50 years. CLDN provides services to people who have developmental disabilities. CEO Glenn Taylor states, “We support more than 270 staff, in the North Durham context. We have a community access program, 20 group homes and a supported independent living program, where people, who are capable, rent their own apartments. We visit them to provide the bit of assistance they need to strive.”

They offer vital programs, such as a Respite program, where scheduled youth group activities provide a brief repose for families, enabling them to manage their unique responsibilities. In Uxbridge and Port Perry, Community Support Programs are offered. The focus is on participation in the community, through their ‘daytime’ services, assisting them with finding positions in the workforce, even as volunteer placements. Social, recreational, and educational opportunities are focused on. CLDN focuses on helping adults with developmental disabilities become happy, active, and independent participants in their community. Through inclusion, they can form friendships and develop meaningful relationships.

Alysia is a beautiful example of this. Alysia, a resident of Uxbridge, receives support from CLDN and volunteers in her community. Since 2013 she has been involved with the Meals on Wheels program, delivering meals to people, once a week. Her cheerful disposition is endearing to many, creating positive connections with families. Alysia feels this is her way of giving back to the community. In addition, she has worked as a lunchroom supervisor in a kindergarten class, at S. A. Cawker Public School, for the past 12 years. The S. A. Cawker team work with her and offer guidance when needed. This supportive environment provides her with a sense of personal worth and gives her a sense of purpose. “Working here makes me feel good about myself,” stated Alysia.

It would be wonderful to continue to hear successful stories like Alysia’s, however, this non-profit agency is struggling financially. According to Glenn Taylor, “Twenty properties cost a lot to maintain. Insurance costs and food go up in price. Infrastructure is getting hollowed out, as it does not have the finances it needs. Our agency’s budget has received no ‘cost of living’ increase from the government, since 2018, when it got a bump of about 2 percent. Meanwhile, our costs have increased, by about that amount, each of six consecutive years, so it is becoming difficult to avoid cutbacks and maintain service quality.”

Their #5ToSurvive plan was established to try and get 5 percent funding from the government. Christine Robinson, Director of Community Supports, added, “#5ToSurvive is important. It does affect families in the long run, if agencies cannot continue to survive and provide support for these families in need. [The need of aging parents, with children waiting for assistance, who have nowhere to go, illustrates the hardship of their families and the agencies which support them.] It is a Domino effect.

We are trying to send the message to the public; we are here in the community and want to highlight the agency is struggling for funding and [in] need [of] government attention. There are people out there who are not getting the services they need.”

With May being Community Living Month, it's the perfect opportunity for the community to learn about the vital role Community Living plays in North Durham. You can learn more about CLDN on their website, at https://www.cldn.ca/, as well as on Twitter, at #5ToSurvive.


Robin Van Der Vleuten is a retired teacher, children’s author, artist, and photographer. (robinscreativeworks.com)

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