Port Alberni Association for Community Living (PAACL) is celebrating 60 years of support for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
“In a nut shell, PAACL supports individuals with intellectual disabilities to live independently as possible, giving supports and resources needed,” said Craig Summer, PAACL executive director.
Before PAACL, until almost 1960, individuals with developmental disabilities were routinely send to live in institutions in Vancouver and Victoria, with the philosophy that handicapped people were better off in segregated living environments.
By the 1960s, the idea of group homes for adults with developmental disabilities took hold and by the early 1970s large group homes were established throughout B.C.
Now, PAACL has three operating homes that house between three to five residents, run several adult and youth support programs for more than 200 individuals and families and employ about 108 staff.
This year, PAACL has launched a clothes drop program to generate revenue for non-funded programs and piloted a Youth Transitions Program to capture a gap in service and support for youth transitioning from high school to adult services.
The new Youth Transition Program will assist youth and their families on finding resources for income assistance, living independently and job discovery.
“We help in laying ground work for them. There’s a lot of need,” Summers said.
PAACL also offers a Community Employment Program designed to support individuals in obtaining employment.
“Our community employment program is huge now. We have currently 33 people employed in 36 different jobs,” Summers said. “It’s been really successful, I think we had about five jobs five years ago.”
To celebrate their 60th anniversary, PAACL is hosting a fundraiser on Sept. 30 at Echo Centre. The event will include dinner, dance and a silent auction. Tickets are $50 each or $350 for a table of eight and available at Smitty’s, Jowsey’s and PAACL admin office. There is an optional 1960s theme for the evening.
With October being community living month, PAACL will be holding a fun fair at Glenwood Centre on Wednesday, Oct. 26. there will be activities, face painting, crafts, cake walk and more. Admission is free.