It all started in my early years when I lived in Toronto Ontario.  It was very difficult growing up in school, being bullied by the kids. I can recall the times when I attended Tabor Park Vocational School and found myself hiding in the bathroom stalls until everybody left for home, in order to refrain from being teased. People would call me horrible names. I hope it is easier for kids growing up today than it was in the 1950’s. I also never had any friends growing up. It’s crazy how long lasting the effects of bullying can have on someone, but if you look on the bright side, it’s made me the person I am today.

 

At some point I found myself living in a place called Lorimer Lodge in Toronto, where I learned certain life skills, finding employment, and so on. Staff were on call 24/7. It was a good experience for me and I had met a few friends along the way.

 

Shortly after this I had finally been living on my own, visiting my parents on weekends, and employed at Humber College. Everything was starting to look up for me! I started out working at a Day Care for children with diverse-abilities and then made my way to working at the Mail room delivering mail to the college. I think what I enjoyed the most here was the social aspect of the job, I made great friends and memories during my employment. After 27 years with Humber College, it was my time to retire. Just before my retirement, my father passed away on father’s day. I remember being at my retirement party doing a speech, I felt very nervous! For some reason, while I was presenting my retirement speech, I felt like the presence of my father was with me, telling me that everything was going to be okay, then felt the anxiety leaving me and I was able to do my speech in front of over a hundred people!

 

In the early 2000’s I made the big move to Victoria, BC with my mother. My sister Merilyn and brother in law Paul were living here at the time and insisted we move down. My sister Cheryl soon followed after, moving from Toronto to Victoria. My mother and I found a place on Church street. Shortly after we moved here I got involved with the Outreach Program at Community Living Victoria with the help of my sister Cheryl. The outreach program was only a stepping stone for me.

 

One day my sister received a call from the SAL program with amazing news! It was probably the best news I’ve ever received. I was accepted to move into the program as soon as possible. It was almost like a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders. It was one of the only places where I felt like I truly belong, I felt accepted. While being a part of SAL, I had met my second family, lncluding friends and staff. I received plenty of support in all aspect of my life. If I were to explain my feelings in words, it would be like winning a million on the lottery.

 

I recall just before my mother’s death, the staff at SAL had supported me visiting her when she was sick. The amount of support from staff and friends I had received was phenomenal. I will never forget this. I couldn’t have asked for more. Living at SAL has changed my life for the better. I now live with all around support from family, friends, staff, and amazing memories to take with me for a lifetime. My sister is currently packing her bags to move to Victoria and I will now have the gift of having both my sisters here with me. I feel so honored being at SAL. Thank you very much!

 

Dianne Brown

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