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LETTER: ARC Industries, what happened to the promises?

Sibling of ARC participant writes appeal for programs, services
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GuelphToday received the following letter from Lynn Lodge in response to the letter by Laura Hanley, executive director of Community Living Guelph Wellington:

On behalf of my brother, Brian Warmington, who has been fortunate enough to attend the ARC programs for more than 40 years I am writing this letter in response to Laura Hanley’s letter on Oct. 20.  (For background see that letter and especially the letter of Peter and Loreen MCaskell of Oct. 19).

When the sheltered workshop program was cancelled approximately four years ago, at a public meeting we were promised that everyone presently involved in the program would be able to continue attending ARC every day. WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT PROMISE?  

Were any of the hundreds of people consulted who have worked and donated and volunteered over the years to make the beautiful facility available especially for these most vulnerable people in our community to feel welcomed, cherished, safe and important?

At first glance, to anyone not involved with the wonderful full-time day program at ARC, the director’s letter appears to set out quite nice suggestions.  Unfortunately, these suggested programs will not give our family members what they need the most. Brian (mental age 4 years and unable to communicate clearly) and his many friends require the following:

  1. A consistent daily routine where they get up, makes their own lunch (which he learned in the kitchens at ARC) and rides the same bus, seeing the same drivers every day who are so kind and helpful to these special citizens.
  2. A place where they have regular activities under the guidance of professionally trained staff who understand their physical and mental difficulties. A great deal of patience and kindness is very necessary when it is difficult for many to express themselves clearly and are easily frustrated.  
  3. Most importantly, a place where they can see their many friends every day and can easily socialize with their peers.  

All of these things have been provided by the wonderful staff over the many years that Brian has attended. Even during COVID, the wonderful weekly daily zoom meetings have really helped their anxiety but every week a common refrain is heard - when can I go back to ARC to do all the things I like and see my friends.  And when they say friends they include the staff who treat them like family.

How would any of you feel if you received a letter today from your employer saying that even when COVID ends you will not be able to return to your office, do your usual job or participate in any of your social activities? 

You “might” be able to see one or two of your friends at a time, maybe meet at Tim Horton’s occasionally but there will not be any large gatherings of your friends.

Surely someone – anyone? - the Board at CLGW, our Mayor, our MPPs for Guelph and Wellington, Mr. Mike Schreiner, Mr. Ted Arnott will get together to ensure that this daily program at ARC will continue? Someone somewhere must care about these special citizens in our community as well as their parents/family members and caregivers.   

Lynn Lodge