A visit to the Sudbury Community Service Centre proves that inspiration comes in many different forms. One such inspiration comes from Corey Willet, a client at the centre.
Corey has a developmental disability and lives independently in Sudbury. He was referred to the Sudbury Community Service Centre about nine years ago. Since then, he has received support through the centre’s Adult Protective Service Worker (APSW) program.
An APSW works directly with adults with a developmental disability who live on their own in the community. The focus is on developing skills that help clients live independently. The APSW program is driven by client goals and support workers focus their efforts on helping clients achieve their unique objectives. “An APSW provides advocacy, lifeskills training, emotional support and crisis response,” notes Linda Morel, the Executive Director at the Sudbury Community Service Centre.
The support of an APSW was essential to Corey. He had a troubled upbringing and lived in foster homes throughout his childhood. For a long time, Corey did not have people in the community he could depend on when going through difficult times. He found his way to the Sudbury Community Service Centre through a central access process, which allows individuals to go to one location to learn about the services and supports available in the community. Through the process, Corey met with a coordinator to determine what services would best meet his needs.
Gilles Goulard is Corey’s APSW. Initially, Corey was reluctant to take advice from Gilles. But as Corey built trust with Gilles, he became more comfortable approaching him to discuss any problems or areas where he needed assistance. When Corey experienced the breakdown of a close relationship, he was able to count on Gilles, who helped him get the support he needed to get through the difficult time. Having an APSW “takes a lot of stress and weight off of my shoulders that normally I wouldn’t be able to get rid of,” says Corey.
Corey didn’t always take the advice of his APSW, but he always knew that Gilles would be there to help. “It’s encouraging to know that I can make mistakes and learn my lesson…and still be me, and still have a person to come to [for support],” says Corey. The support of an APSW helps people with a developmental disability make their own decisions and learn from them. This helps them make better decisions in the future and be more successful living independently in the community.
“Corey’s full of potential … I don’t think he realizes how much potential he has and it’s my job to bring it out, to show him what he can do and what he can achieve,” says Gilles. Thanks in part to Gilles’ support and guidance, Corey can now find his own jobs and apartments in the community.
In addition to his two jobs, Corey was also selected by his peers to be the chair of a local group that advocates for the rights of people with a developmental disability. “I’ve seen advocacy at work, I’ve seen it save me from things that I would have been stuck with,” says Corey. This role has brought him to Ottawa to speak at an international conference on self-advocacy, and he has participated in a United Nations Convention where he spoke with the Director of the World Health Organization about his work. “Everyone deserves a voic e,” Corey says. His advocacy helps to break down barriers and change the public’s perceptions about people with a developmental disability.
Gilles and Linda note that programs like the APSW program help to change people’s attitudes and help them understand that people with a developmental disability can successfully live and work in Sudbury. “Our program has been instrumental in trying to alter some of the preconceptions that people have about individuals [with a developmental disability],” says Linda.
Corey is thankful he has had the support of the Sudbury Community Service Centre. Says Corey, “people underestimate the power of giving someone confidence and the power of having somebody you can rely on when you need them.” His words inspire, and his story is proof that with the right supports individuals with a developmental disability can live successfully in the community.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services provides funding to the Sudbury Community Service Centre so they can deliver the APSW program to clients like Corey.