By David F. Rooney
Chili and smiles were on the lunch menu at the Community Centre on Thursday as the men and women enrolled in the Community Inclusion Program served up bowls of vegetarian or beef and bean chili to raise money for a much-hoped-for trip to Victoria next summer.
“Most of them have never seen the ocean or been on a large boat so this would be a very special trip,” said Community Support Worker Andie Lawson as she watched her clients eating and socializing in the multi-purpose room at the Community Centre during the chili luncheon.
Her clients, who range in age from 21 to 65, are like big, eager-to-please kids who try to fit into a society that sometimes seems to have no place for them. Despite that, many of them are working at small, easy jobs like sweeping floors, folding linen and collecting recyclable items. You know who they are: we all pass them on the street or see them around town. They are usually smiling and are often accompanied by other adults who aren’t handicapped.
The group of about 13 adults suffer from a variety of mental and physical disabilities but that doesn’t stop them from trying to find their own niche in the world. And something like a chaperoned trip to Victoria with all that entails — the ferry ride, the sight of dolphins leaping ahead of the ship’s immense steel bow, a trip to the BC Royal Museum and formal tea in a quiet tearoom — would be a remarkable journey indeed.
“They are always willing to try new things,” Lawson said. “Usually we take two trips (to fairly local places). This past summer we went to Fort Steele and toured the heritage town there. We have also been to the Nakusp Hot Springs and the Calgary Zoo but usually we go camping locally. So for next summer we decided to dream big.”
If you missed the chili luncheon you can still help the members of the Community Inclusion Program realize their dream. Lawson said there will be other fund-raisers in the months ahead. And, if you’ve got a buildup of refundable bottles and cans in your garage you can always ask the group to haul them away. The group has an Ongoing Bottle Drive. Call 250-837-0855 to arrange for a pickup or a delivery time.