Community Living flag flies at Huntsville Town Hall for inclusion in May 2022
The Town of Huntsville hoisted the Community Living flag at Town Hall in an air of celebration in May.
“Thank you, everyone, for being here this morning, and thank you, Community Living Huntsville,” said Mayor Karin Terziano to the crowd outside Huntsville Town Hall in Civic Square on May 9 at 11:30 AM. “Sixty years is a long time as an organization, and it’s wonderful for Huntsville and its residents.”
The town raised the flag to honour both Community Living Month 2022 and Community Living Huntsville’s 60 anniversary year. Festivities included speakers, community connection, Community Living-themed cupcakes by Sweet Confections Muskoka, themed cookies by Farmer’s Daughter, and coffee and tea by Starbucks Huntsville.
Jo-Anne Demick, a representative for Community Living Ontario, offered congratulations on behalf of the provincial association.
“Both regionally and provincially, Community Living Huntsville is recognized as a leader for inclusive community development,” said Demick. “And a leader on support for people to live full and inclusive lives of their choosing. Thank you for all you do.”
Myke Malone, Board Chair for Community Living Huntsville, told the crowd the organization had been passionate about opening doors in an inclusive community for people with developmental disabilities and their families since 1962.
And he said he felt the same sense of possibility for a more connected and inclusive future now as Community Living Movement advocates in North Muskoka must have felt throughout the past 60 years, as they inspired possibilities and strived for disability rights, self-determination, and community inclusion.
“Consider how you, personally, can get involved or reignite your passion for the movement. Raise your voice as a self-advocate. Join our membership. Become an inclusive employer. Support our fundraisers and come to our events,” said Malone. “Together, we can honour the hard work of those who have come before us, celebrate our present, and inspire possibilities for a more inclusive future.”
Suzanne Willett, Executive Director for Community Living Huntsville, noted the celebration belonged not only to Community Living Huntsville, but also to the broader community because for decades the community had advocated and made strides toward dignity, respect, and inclusion, too.
She shared Huntsville resident Don Eagles’ story as a testament to the importance of self-determination, person-directed support, and community inclusion. It was the story of a man who spent his early life in an institution in Orillia for people with developmental disabilities, but through self-determination and access to Community Living Huntsville support was eventually able to move into his own downtown Huntsville apartment, build a job providing snow clearing and year-round storefront maintenance services for downtown businesses, and create meaningful professional and personal connections with his community.
“Don became a valued employee, a friend, and a respected member of the Main Street community,” said Willett. “He had people in his life besides those who were paid to be there, who cared about his welfare, who looked for him when he was not around, and celebrated holidays with him.”
His community, she said, rallied around him when he lost his apartment and needed a new place to live. And it rallied again when he passed away in 2015, installing a permanent tribute to Eagles downtown at Main and King streets – a bronzed broom and commemorative plaque.
“This is a perfect example of why this is not only Community Living Huntsville’s celebration,” said Willett. “We encourage and invite everyone in our community to consider personal, social, professional, and organizational action they can take in their own lives to inspire possibilities for inclusion in their community.”
The crowd broke into applause.
We are grateful to the Town of Huntsville for raising our flag to support, promote, and raise awareness of community inclusion, the Community Living Movement, and Community Living Huntsville!