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Welcome to the first edition of the 101 Ways to Make Friends news!

February 25, 2009

Welcome to the first issue of our newsletter and blog!

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter; if there’s been some mistake and you didn’t intend to, please feel free to unsubscribe by clicking on the link.   We’re glad to have this forum to share what we’ve been learning with you, and glad that you wanted to join us.   Everywhere, people are talking abut neighbourhoods and building community and social networks and making friends – about the disaster of isolation.   Our work with folks with disabilities has been a process of both teaching and learning…  and in the end, the folks we support are great teachers of this aspect of our lives: how to connect, how to stay connected…  over the last few decades as people have been recognising the need to re-build their communities, our folks have been quietly building community.   It’s an area of leadership for them and their supporters. 


It all started…  well, there are several versions of that story.   One is how our agency, Spectrum Society for Community Living, started more than 20 years ago with the intention to serve folks with disabilities and their families in ways that worked for them.   The shorter version is that a few different things happened a few years ago.   We wondered “What more could we do?”  Now that we’d accrued some experience and shown that the folks we supported could and did live and participate fully in their neighbourhoods, what else could we do?   Around this time, we went to a wonderful workshop with David Pitonyak and he said something like, “Find your own local leaders – promote those people – take care of them!  You have all the answers you need and you have something to share – share it!”   Hmmm…  we thought.   A little bit later we went to interview Mildred DeHaan on her retirement from her various roles, as she left the big city to go live with her daughter in Nelson.   Mildred told us about her various experiences of community living over a 45 year history in B.C. – what a treasure she is and what an experience to spend the evening with her.    At the end of the evening she said, very seriously, “and now it is your job to spread the word – I’m handing you the torch.”  Mildred had been a great mentor to us for 20 years, one of the first leaders in our field that we met and someone who always made herself available to help and always spoke the truth.   So that seemed pretty serious. 

We began looking for opportunities to share what we know, and discovered that one of the great needs is for people to have opportunities to network with each other – most of the answers are out there and, between us, all of the answers are available to all of us.   We just need to ask.  

That led to the “Personal Supports Network” project in it’s first phase, which has now grown into something else – books, workshops, networking.   It’s all been an amazing gift and we look forward to more.   We’d like to offer special thanks to Jule Hopkins of CLBC who has been so encouraging and full of ideas and ideas about how to accomplish ideas…  she’s been hugely inspiring to us. 

If you have things you’d like to share, please send them to us at

Susan, Ernie, Millie and Aaron, Spectrum Society for Community Living

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