From art class to an employment readiness program, exploring local parks to visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, Haley McDonald does it all. The independent, outgoing 21-year-old also has her eye on expanding her artistic and gardening endeavours to further support her passion for travel.
But to do so, she requires the support of the Garth Homer Society team.
Haley has a very rare genetic condition that means she’s fully dependant on life-supporting medical equipment and nurses, explains Garth Homer nurse Victoria Weber.
In addition to participating in the centre’s Art Works and Employment Services programs, Haley is also in Garth Homer’s residential program.
“Garth Homer gave me a really nice house to live in with my sister and I like my new friends that I live with,” Haley says. “The nurses help me live my life and have fun. I have a garden in the spring and sell my plants and the vegetables they make. I want to make money so I can go skiing and camping, go to Disneyland and be able to travel. It costs a lot of money to travel with nurses.”
Providing support for diverse needs
Haley is one of about 200 clients served by Saanich’s Garth Homer Society, which provides day and residential programs for adults with serious physical challenges and developmental disabilities. Based at the Garth Homer Centre, program participants enjoy a wide range of community- and centre-based activities, selecting daily activities based on their individual interests.
In addition to successful life skills and geriatric initiatives, Garth Homer also offers a residential program, supporting a variety of individuals, including those with complex medical support needs, says Phemie Guttin, Executive Director, Service Operations.
Skilled team members needed
To support these various initiatives, Garth Homer employs 200 skilled individuals across many fields. Competitive wages, good benefits, ongoing education and room for advancement are part of the package, but so is the opportunity to work with amazing people like Haley.
“I have fun with my friends and the nurses help us by driving and coming with me. They need to look after my ventilator and help me when I can’t breathe,” Haley says, recalling an especially fun time in October. “I LOVE Halloween and we had a Halloween party, and I got dressed up with my sister and we went to the Zombie Walk in Victoria.”
That flexibility is vital for Haley, her friends and others at the centre.
“I think people don’t know that Garth Homer has to get vehicles for us,” she reflects. “We like to go places like the movies and the mall, and the park, and you need a vehicle to take you there. We have a big van and a small van, that take people who have wheel chairs and people who don’t.”
To learn more about the Garth Homer Society’s current employment opportunities, and join a community of caregivers who each day make a difference in the lives of others, visit garthhomersociety.org.