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A Little Story About Leigh

Have you ever been witness to a miracle?  Well, I have.  Every day since September 5, 2002.  That was the day my life changed, and my daughter’s dreams came true.

I am the mother of a 40-year-old autistic woman named Leigh. She has always faced challenges and hurdles to overcome – and her biggest hurdle has been finding a place to fit in outside of our home.

When she was young, Leigh went to school with the other children her age. Throughout those years, she faced the same good and bad experiences we all go through – and she got to share in the common experience of school. However, her autism made dealing with those challenges even more difficult. When other kids made fun of her, or when she felt left out, Leigh would manifest her anger in meltdowns. These were angry outbursts, elbowing walls or crying uncontrollably. It was rough – but we always got through it.

Then, when Leigh turned 21 she could no longer attend public school and there were little to no good options for her- and she knew this too. Her meltdowns grew more frequent because she knew she was being left out. Everyone else was moving on with their lives, and her’s was spent solely at home. 

I quickly found out that there were not too many options available to us other than dismal and dingy storefront spaces staffed by well-meaning but overworked and harried people whom I was not about to entrust my daughter’s care to.

I was on the verge of losing hope when, quite by chance, I met  Elaine Vollett.  Elaine was a mother just like me who needed a safe environment for her son because nothing safe and nurturing could be found. Elaine knew that if you want something done right, do it yourself – so she created The Centre for Dreams.

At the outset, other parents in the same situation relied on Elaine and gradually her program blossomed into what it is today - a registered charity providing a safe, loving and educational program for developmentally and physically challenged adults. Dreams gives these beautiful people the life skills they require to become active members of the community, helping them to grow and be nurtured with a sense of self-esteem and dignity not offered anywhere else in our community.

Dreams is blessed with a staff of young educated and qualified professionals who adore the members and whom the members adore in return.  The atmosphere created at Dreams is one of warmth, love, security and happiness.

From the first day Leigh began going to Dreams she started smiling for no reason.  Each smile was a gift. And because of her time at Dreams, Leigh began speaking in full sentences using vocabulary I knew she had but could never express. 

But the true evidence of Dreams’ effect on Leigh came to light the day Leigh told me she loved me.  I could not believe what I was hearing but from the first day she said the words every mother loves to hear from her child she has not stopped staying them.  That is the gift of The Centre for Dreams.    


I thank God every day for Dreams.



Marcia Toliopoulos

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