Thank you for your commitment to Community Living Hamilton. We owe many thanks to our employees, supporters and partners for helping to make 2021-22 so very remarkable. So many people came together to make a beautiful picture this year – a picture of community as we began re-opening services after pandemic restrictions gradually lifted.

Re-openings began cautiously in the fall of 2021. Children’s Respite required extra care because children were the last to get vaccinated. We are happy to report that October 2021 saw half-day bookings on Saturdays and Sundays at our Charlton site, which let us reach as many families as possible while remaining vigilant not to expose children to the risks of the coronavirus.

These children and their families were thrilled with the re-introduction after missing out on crucial school supports that they would have received. Now we look forward to full-day and overnight bookings next year.

We added more in-person programming re-opened when we gained access to three community participation sites at city-owned community centres. Modified schedules ensured that clients could access programming at least one day per week. Re-openings with capacity limits also included the Employment Access Centre, the Drop ‘n’ Shop thrift store and On the Go fee-for-service programming.

Keeping individuals and our community safe was vital as we worked closely with our local Public Health, the Ministry, the City of Hamilton and many community partners, taking part in community vaccination clinics and meeting each week to share best practices, resources and support. Our amazing employees accepted all challenges and worked together brilliantly to safely support individuals and families. Even with the light at the end of the tunnel, some activities still had to be carried out virtually because of pandemic surges, and those events were huge successes.

For example, during National Accessibility Week for Early Childhood Educators and Licenced Childcare Providers in June 2021, sought-after speaker, inclusion researcher and consultant, Shelley Moore, appeared for a virtual kick-off event to expand the conversation about inclusion. More than 500 people registered to hear her inspiring stories and gain new ideas for inclusive practices in their classrooms. We continue to build on this work in our community of clients and educators and have incorporated a Shelley Moore concept and inclusion challenge each quarter.

We also went online for two year-end celebrations. We received rave reviews about recognition expert Sarah McVanel’s keynote talk at the Employee & Volunteer Recognition Event. Meanwhile, our virtual Holiday Celebration featured a wonderfully engaging painting night where participants created some truly spectacular moonlit winter scenes.

Community Living Hamilton made use of pandemic downtime to invest in managing IT strategy. Following recommendations for a phased plan of attack, our organization now has a robust system for handling and protecting data in a safe and secure way, as well as safe methods for reaching our community virtually whenever necessary.

Another accomplishment during this time was the completion of phase II renovations at Leeming. The site is now more accessible to clients with complex needs and lets us provide a broader array of services, bringing the community together while promoting safety, independence and well-being.

Some of the new features include fully accessible washrooms, anti-slip hospital-grade flooring, an upgraded HVAC system, new windows, new kitchen appliances and the inviting multi-sensory room that creates a calming atmosphere with the use of coloured lighting, plush mats and a bubble tube – it’ll be a huge hit with everyone at our Grand Re-opening.

Community Living Hamilton is so thankful to its supporters for making this all possible. That is why we are so thrilled to let you know about two important achievements.

First, Community Living Hamilton received 100% compliance in December 2021 after undergoing the Ministry’s compliance inspection that ensures people with developmental disabilities are receiving quality standards of care.

Secondly, the City of Hamilton has extended its partnership with us for another five years under the existing funding agreement. The partnership began five years ago to build the capacity of inclusion in every classroom in our community of licensed childcare centres.

Each year has seen expansion with more children gaining access to supports, more before and after school programs and new resources to support French language centres and American Sign Language. These resources have helped to support educators with transitioning children back into child care after extended time at home due to COVID restrictions, and overall, have been successful in the endeavour to build capacity with fully inclusive practices.

At Community Living Hamilton, we want you to know that this year of growth in our community rests on your dedication. And next year promises even more triumphs. Thank you for your encouragement as we continue to plan and hire new staff into all programs and services to prepare for a fuller re-opening now and in the future.

With our sincere gratitude for the picture you have helped create.