March of Dimes Employment Support

Officially, the March of Dimes serves people with physical disabilities. However the organization’s Employment Services are open to people with any disability including developmental delays, mental health issues, learning disabilities, hearing and vision impairments.March of dimes

Interested participants must register for and attend an orientation session, after which they are assigned to an Employment Specialist. This counsellor will work with them individually to assess skills and establish a job search plan. The job search plan might include attending workshops to develop resumes and interview skills or may include a work trial. Staff will then help people find a job and retain the job by being available to help with problem-solving and asking for accommodations for the disability.

March of Dimes has a team of job developers who work to identify jobs before they are openly advertised. They are also able to connect people with job coaches.

The program seems best suited to people who are eager to develop a clear plan and are motivated to work one-on-one with a counsellor to find work.  The Toronto office is at 10 Overlea Blvd.  Telephone 416-467-2002 x 7226 to register for orientation. Apparently 80% of people served last year found employment!

Has anyone used this service? What was your experience?

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Friendly Housemates–Information night Tuesday, August 4

Community Living, in partnership with Lights has developed an innovative pilot project to match people with disabilities with a developmental services student in a shared living situation. Find out more at the information night on Tuesday, August 4.

Networking Evening Flyer Aug 4

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Graduation day! Culinary Arts program Christian Horizons and Humber College

The Culinary Arts Program led by Christian Horizons and Humber College Maddie grad IMG_20150608_195612_editwas by far the best post-secondary experience Maddie has ever had. The job coaches worked very hard to find suitable restaurant placements for every student. Students were placed in restaurants ranging from The Pickle Barrel to the Park Hyatt. Maddie wanted to be close to home and was placed at Insomnia Restaurant, where she worked in food preparation three days each week. Her job coach, Shannon Buller, visited every week or two to see how things were going and to work with Maddie and her supervisors. During the in-class sessions, Maddie developed “soft skills” with the Christian Horizons instructors who focused on Smart Serve, First Aid, and safe food handling. Every Saturday, Maddie practiced food prep skills with the Humber College chefs.

job coaches IMG_20150608_174248

Maddie with her job coaches and classmates

The 13 graduates of the pilot program were honoured tonight with a delicious dinner and lovely ceremony at Humber College. Applications are now being accepted for September. If you think your young person might like to develop some culinary skills, apply now! Find out more from this Global TV presentation!

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My Pub Night Hero

Julia Ouellette is my hero. For several years, she has been organizing and facilitating a monthly Pub Night for young adults with developmental delays. Over the whole year, the entire group includes 20-30 young people and a handful of siblings, who look forward to meeting at the Brass Taps to chat over dinner and drinks. brass-taps1

It’s a large, lively group and not everyone is great at managing money. But over the years,  Julia has worked out the kinks. She sends email reminders to make sure everyone understands how much a meal and drink will cost. She encourages participants to keep track of what they order and reminds them to ask the wait staff if they need help remembering what they owe. On a few occasions, the last to leave were stuck paying the shortfall when others didn’t pay enough. Julia started asking everyone to bring $25 cash.  That way no one will be short-changed (ideally) and cash is easier for the hard-working staff to process  than 25 individual bank or credit cards.

Pub Night is a red letter day in Maddie’s social calendar. She looks forward to seeing her friends and, at the same time, she is learning to navigate the adult social world–with generous support and regular coaching about how to behave in that world.

Learn from Julia, my Pub Night hero, and consider organizing a regular social event in your own community!

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St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing

St. Clare’s is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that operates 383 housing units in four properties in downtown Toronto. It is the largest affordable housing developer in Canada—numbers that are amazing for a not-for-profit agency, but that demonstrate how little commitment there is from governments to provide affordable housing. The agency is not faith-based, but was named by “cheeky” activists who were looking for a way to build affordable housing during a time when social programs and funding for housing was being drastically cut. The organization is run by a volunteer board of directors and paid staff.

St. Clare’s currently operates properties at four locations and has one under development. The buildings are run in partnership with 15 different referring agencies that serve people with many different challenges and differences including homelessness, mental health issues, addictions and physical and medical conditions. The populations in each building are mixed in terms of need and referring agencies.180 Sudbury

180 Sudbury is a new, 18 storey building with 190 units of mixed housing, rather like a “swanky condo,” according to Andrea Adams, operations manager. Half of the units are allocated to the clients of the different referring agencies. Tenants in the other half of the units pay half the average market rent as calculated by CMHC. Rent for a two bedroom apartment is approximately $1175 per month, making it very affordable for two ODSP recipients to share (shelter allowance = $480 + approximately $500 in living allowance).

The building is staffed by a full-time community and partnership coordinator and after-hours staff. These staff people are paid from the rental income. In addition, there are lots of community activities, dinners, programs and informal meetings in the lobby and shared spaces. Andrea says, “Everyone in the building is noticed. The vibrant mix of people gives others the opportunity to express their humanity.” Andrea noted that from her experience the move to independent living leads to a whole new range of development and growth for the young adult. We may, in fact, be holding our children back by not encouraging them to live outside the family home!

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Free RDSP information sessions

The Registered Disability Savings Plan is sponsored by the Government of Canada. It provides up to $3,500 a year in matching grants and up to $1,000 in bonds. It’s confusing.

Find out more at one of these free RDSP information sessions. They are presented by Brendon Pooran, a lawyer who specializes in wills, estate planning, government benefits and disability law.

RDSP dates

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Help the Mavericks Become Baristas!

Common Ground Cooperative has been working to offer meaningful employment to adults with developmental delays for many years. And now, The Coffee Shed has launched a new campaign to enhance their already excellent program. Made by Mavericks is the brainchild of job coach, Gerald Fantone. It’s a new training program designed to teach the partners how to use commercial grade coffee equipment and become certified baristas. The Mavericks have launched a fundraising campaign through Indiegogo to purchase coCoffee shedffee equipment

You can help the Mavericks develop new skills and enhance the offerings at the Coffee Shed. Please donate today! The campaign runs until January 22, 2015.

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