I have been a part of The Centre for Dreams family from the very beginning. The need for the program came to light the day John, my brother turned 21 and was finished school. I graduated from The University of Windsor with my Bachelor of Social Work in 2000 and have been working in the field of disabilities all of my life. As a result of having John as my brother, I have been instrumental in advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities from a very young age. I have found my niche working at The Centre for Dreams and am very proud to be associated with such an outstanding organization that truly makes a difference in the lives of adults with a developmental disability. I have learned quite quickly that it isn't enough to just dream, you have to work hard to achieve your dreams in order to be successful!
My initial introduction to The Centre for Dreams was as a group fitness instructor. It didn't take long before my weekly visit became my favorite day of the week. I looked forward to seeing the members and was energized by their enthusiasm, determination and positive attitudes. I am grateful to now be working full-time as a Program Supervisor. I am passionate about seeing our members thrive. I believe a learning environment where they are encouraged to try, are free to make mistakes and are celebrated for their accomplishments is essential. It's my goal to provide learning opportunities that foster independence and build self-confidence. I strive to be a positive mentor and an enthusiastic cheerleader that will help them to see their worth. Every member of Dreams matters to me.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to work with children, as working with children is where I felt the most confident. On the other hand, working with individuals with developmental disabilities was something I believed I did not have the patience for, therefore making me feel uncomfortable. In September 2014 I began as a fourth year Bachelor of Social Work placement student from York University. It was then that I realized that working with individuals with developmental disabilities is not about patience; instead it is about connecting, engaging, inspiring and empowering others. My philosophy of practice is heavily rooted in a strengths based perspective which is what Dreams and Beyond The Label is all about. In April 2015 I started full time with Dreams as the Community Outreach Coordinator. I truly live by the motto, “Expect the unexpected.” I never thought that having a placement at Dreams would affect me in the positive way that it has. Dreams has now become my passion, my life and my inspiration. My goal is to give back to Dreams as the members have provided me with much more than I could ever express.
As a young girl, I wanted to be a nurse so I could help others. I took a course to become a personal support worker at the North American School of Information Technology. I heard about The Centre for Dreams from a friend and thought to myself, “I would love to be a part of that organization.” I started at DREAMS in September of 2010 as a personal support worker and now I am a program facilitator. Coming to DREAMS every morning makes me feel very fortunate because I am doing something that I enjoy. I love working with the members because of their unique personalities and their smiling faces. It makes me feel good to know that I am doing something to improve their way of life.
Watching and seeing others grow out of challenging situations is inspiring; being part of that process is life changing. Amazingly enough, Dreams has given me the chance to do both on a daily level. But if I were honest, that definitely wasn’t what I was thinking when I first started in my co-op years. Having never worked with this population before, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. “How do I interact or talk with them, especially if they didn’t use words?” was one of my first questions. Needless to say, there were many labels and understandings of what I thought of them that needed to be relooked, broken down, and changed. And this only happened when I stepped into the uncomfortable, getting to know them for who they are, not who I thought they should be. And that was life changing. Now I want to see that same change in others. I look forward to a day where no one would be looked down on just because they look or act different than the “expected”. I want to see our members grow in their confidence of who they are and what they can do. And I want society to see and be inspired, to be changed as I was, and continually as I am still today.
Coming into Dreams as a social work student that has never worked with the population before, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It is easy to base prejudices and assumptions on a group of individuals when you are unfamiliar with that population. The unique positive personalities that radiate from each individual member has not only changed the way I view people, but the way I look at life itself. Having the chance to watch each member grow and improve in different areas of life is astonishing. Dreams has always felt like a huge family that I wanted to be a part of since walking through the doors on my first day of placement. I appreciate the welcoming into their family through transitioning from a student to a program supervisor. While at Dreams, I hope to use my social work knowledge to not only empower each client to strive for greatness but to also advocate on their behalf within my community.