‘You inspire all of us’: Huntsville honours Community Living with flag raising in 2023
Huntsville, Ontario – Conversation and excitement filled the air as the Town of Huntsville unfurled the Community Living flag in downtown Huntsville in May.
Community Living Huntsville, in celebration of town council and staff raising its flag at Town Hall to kick off Community Living Month 2023, welcomed more than 40 people to Partners Hall on May 1. The all-ages crowd included town councillors and staff, people and families, local media, business community members, and Community Living board members and staff.
“The word, ‘inclusivity’? A lot of people talk about it. Community Living Huntsville walks the talk, and it has for quite some time,” Huntsville mayor Nancy Alcock told the crowd. She praised our not-for-profit organization as a progressive partner in helping to build a community where people with and without disabilities can participate in and contribute to employment, the arts, sports, and every other part of community life. The mayor then turned to Community Living staff members: “I can’t thank you enough because you inspire all of us in what we do, every day,” she said.
The crowd broke into applause.
Jo-Anne Demick, director of stakeholder relations for Community Living Ontario, called our organization an innovative leader in the province, too. She commented on recent provincial recognition of Community Living Huntsville for our partnership with Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North on affordable, accessible, and safe housing for people and families we support. And she applauded our organization’s collaboration on a person-centered harm reduction resource for people with intellectual disabilities across Ontario, who face co-occurring barriers to community inclusion.
Since 1962, Community Living Huntsville has worked to open doors to an inclusive community by empowering people and families to live, work, and play in unique and purposeful ways in North Muskoka. We have roughly 80 staff members, most of whom directly support and advocate alongside more than 300 children and adults, and their families, toward a more inclusive community where everyone participates, together.
But real inclusion can only happen when the community believes all members, with and without disabilities, deserve to live with dignity, share in every element of living, and have equal opportunity to contribute, alongside one another.
Myke Malone, board chair for Community Living Huntsville, thanked the town for raising the Community Living flag to celebrate inclusive communities, and he shared how excited he was to celebrate Community Living Month with everyone.
“I am also excited to ask you: what does ‘community’ mean to you?” said Malone. “To me, community is about people having the choice to meaningfully participate in their shared space, and building real relationships with each other, so everyone is authentically included as a respected, valued, and contributing member.”
He said strong, safe, and vibrant communities are built when people with and without disabilities create understanding, friendships, and accountability through shared experiences and interests.
Suzanne Willett, executive director for Community Living Huntsville, thanked the speakers for their words and their commitments to inclusion. She also thanked everyone who came to the event. “I can’t believe it – standing room only today!” she said to laughter. She noted that our organization works hard to help people, families, and the community achieve real inclusion, but it takes the combined efforts of everyone involved to build the relationships that make inclusive communities a livable reality.
Community Living Huntsville thanks its flag raising celebration partners, Metro Huntsville and Starbucks Huntsville, for providing refreshments for the event, and the Town of Huntsville for the use of Partners Hall on a rainy spring morning.
Follow @clhuntsville on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and Community Living Huntsville on Linkedin in May to join the conversation about authentic community inclusion throughout Community Living Month 2023.
Community Living Huntsville is a not-for-profit, registered charity that supports and advocates alongside more than 300 children and adults, and their families, to live, work, and play in unique and purposeful ways in North Muskoka. Learn more at www.clhuntsville.ca and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin.