REFLECTING ON 2014
The LiveWorkPlay year runs July to June, so we don’t tend to reflect on the calendar year, but as 2015 is the year of our twentieth anniversary (celebration on June 5) it’s perhaps an appropriate moment to take a quick look back!
It’s a topic that tends to get a lot of attention, and why not? It’s a big deal. 2014 could be the year of “Jobs Jobs Jobs!” because there was certainly a lot of good news. LiveWorkPlay members receiving help with employment soared way past the 50% employment rate, more than doubling the current employment rate for people with intellectual disabilities (see Royce in Spotlight).
A bit more quietly, members continue moving to homes of their own in the community. We saw many transitions from sharing arrangements to individuals in their own apartment, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Not surprisingly, people with intellectual disabilities value their privacy and independence just as much as other citizens. The help people need is often not so much about “using the stove” or other practical barriers or concerns. More often it is about maintaining and building social connections (see next paragraph).
The most complicated category is “everything else” such as travel, clubs, courses, classes, sports, arts, recreation, leisure, dinner parties, citizenship, socializing,volunteering, friendships, and relationships! It is on this front that our volunteer team (nearing 150 active volunteers) has made such a different in the organization and in people’s lives.
They will be the first to tell you of course that it’s a reciprocal and mutually beneficial experience (which is good, because that’s the idea!) but the reality is that without them coming forward to help us facilitate opportunities to connect with our members around shared interest, it just doesn’t happen. Pictured in the middle is Phil, wearing birthday bling at a house party celebrating his 30th birthday!
It was another great year for our community events (see next story below for an update). A comment received from guests Brian, Ann, Bradley, and Kieran, invited to the Festive Family Feast on December 5 probably says it all:
We have known Helen for several years and have had the pleasure of meeting her brother Paul (LiveWorkPlay member) on several occasions. Paul is an amazing man. We have heard about his challenges, triumphs and how much he has benefited from his experience at LiveWorkPlay. When Helen mentioned the December 5 event, we just jumped at the opportunity to drive in from Montreal to see what it was all about.
Upon arriving at the banquet hall we were awestruck at the scale and professionalism of the event. The feeling of community and acceptance was immediately palpable. Everyone was happy and positive, so much so that we both shed a few tears of joy! LiveWorkPlay and all supporters should be proud of what you have built together.Our sons Bradley and Kieran (pictured, seated) don’t use words to communicate but the smiles on their faces told us that they had an amazing experience. Bradley enjoyed wheeling himself around the hall a Kieran was a BIG fan of the chocolate cake! Once in the van, both were sound asleep.
BECAUSE YOU ASKED
LiveWorkPlay co-leaders Keenan Wellar and Julie Kingstone are frequently asked about how it is they came to start a charitable organization for people with intellectual disabilities at the relatively tender ages of 22 and 27.
We’ll have Julie’s story another time, but thanks to a video transpcript from a recent conference in Ottawa, we’ve got Keenan explaining his particular journey. It has something to do with making a mistake when applying for a job. Intrigued? Check it out!
EVENTS: WHAT’S WORKING?
The Engines of Success banquet every June is bursting at the seams and is as good an indicator as any that LiveWorkPlay is on the right track. The growth we are experiencing is from people with labels like “co-worker” and “teammate” and “neighbour” as well as “community partner.” We will struggle along with the happy problem of managing a very large group of people and a dynamic agenda of recognition and celebration.
The Recipe for Success Annual Auction & Culinary Adventure in April has long surpassed the life expectancy of fundraising events, but with consistent net proceeds of $40,000 to $50,000 at this point it’s about small tweaks and hard work to maintain its success – as long as people continue enjoying it, we’ll continue offering it. Some good news is that for 2015, TD Bank is back as title sponsor!
The one annual event that likely needs to move to something like a “once every five years” schedule is the New Year’s Eve Dinner & Dance. What’s happening here is that more and more LiveWorkPlay members are getting help (or all on their own) hosting or attending their own parties on December 31. That’s a positive development. We like being victims of our own success at LiveWorkPlay, and having our party rejected by some members who want to go out to a venue of their choice with a significant other or small group of friends is a great outcome that we fully support!
The staff team has prepared a dance and a toast for your amusement!
DOING MORE GOOD
Looking ahead to 2015 the single biggest and undisputed challenge for LiveWorkPlay is how to do more: how to help more individuals and how to help our own community and other communities progress as welcoming and inclusive people and places. To some extent these are internal decisions, but they are also influenced by external considerations. This includes not only funding opportunities or constraints, but also social change influences from government policy decisions at the local, provincial, and national levels.
Some developments or stories we are following:
- currently less than 10% of residential resources in the Developmental Services system are going to help individuals live in homes of their own (such as an apartment) with about 80% of resources invested in group homes and other group living arrangements; a Housing Task Force has been announced but it is yet to be seen how they will approach these issues and whether or not there will be a renewed focus on affordable housing and supports for people with intellectual disabilities to access it.
- there has been a significant increase in individualized Passport funding and this is already starting to have an impact on demand for our supports; this amounts to negotiating multiple small contracts for service and then coordinating the resources to provide them, which is very challenging; not enough resources (for example, too few staff members) and we cannot deliver on what we promise; more resources than we need, and the work is not sustainable – no easy answers here!
- planned changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) could mean differences in income particularly for those who are working; by any objective standard LiveWorkPlay does a great job of bringing employees and employers together but currently these efforts are not supported by any long-term or renewable funding source; it is unclear whether any new opportunities are being developed whereby provincial funding could help sustain or grow our employment supports
UPDATE YOUR EVENTS CALENDAR FOR 2014-2015!
It makes us sad when people miss out on events, so here’s a calendar for the entire year, and you can PRINT A BEAUTIFUL COPY FROM THIS LINK! Remember to visithttp://liveworkplay.ca and use the CALENDAR tab for all event dates and registrations. The dates and locations below must be confirmed through ONLINE REGISTRATION (sometimes things change).
We’ve included direct links for online registration below, but most of them will not work (yet). Don’t panic! We just wanted you to have the dates right now so you can put them in your calendar. New Year’s Eve registration is ready to go – don’t delay, sign up today!
Wednesday, December 31: New Year’s Eve Dinner & Dance (St. Anthony’s)
Friday, March 20: Foolish Family Feast (St. Anthony’s)
Thursday, April 9: Recipe for Success Auction (St. Anthony’s)
Thursday, June 4: Engines of Success 20th Anniversary Banquet (St. Anthony’s)
Saturday, June 13: Pool Party & BBQ (Harris Household)
Wednesday, June 17: BNI Golf Tournament for LiveWorkPlay (Metcalfe Golf)
Sunday, July 26: JMM Group Golf Tournament for LiveWorkPlay (Glen Mar)
Thursday, September 17: Rotary Club of West Ottawa Golf Tournament (Glen Mar)
Friday, September 25: Welcome Back Family Feast and AGM (St. Anthony’s)
- For all events except those listed below: your registration contact is Alex Darling
- For BNI Golf Tournament: contact is Business Network International (not LiveWorkPlay)
- For JMM Golf Tournament: contact is Keenan Wellar
JOIN IN THE FUN!
In recent weeks there has been lots of activity on our Facebook page and group, so please join in that fun too! You can also follow @LiveWorkPlay on Twitter, and check out our channel on YouTube. We are nearing 2000 fans on our page, maybe you can help us start on our next 1000!