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Community Living fights to survive and thrive

Oshawa resident Darlene Day, 60, lives with a developmental disability after suffering a high fever as a baby.

Day, who frequently speaks in public about her experience, says living with cognitive challenges is difficult, but she says Community Living Oshawa/Clarington (CLOC) has made it a lot easier.

“I met a lot of new friends, CLOC has been like a family to me,” she said, “because they are there to support each and every one of us with developmental disabilities, and they really understand their ups and downs.

“CLOC has really put me where I am today to get rid of that brick wall.”

A woman wearing a light blue blouse stands at a lectern.
Darlene Day credits Community Living Clarington / Oshawa with making her life fulfilling. Photo credit: Branden Rushton

Yet, CLOC says it’s difficult to provide even basic services such as heat and transportation due to inflation.

The recent provincial budget, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services saw a funding increase to $20.1 billion by 2026–2027 from $19.4 billion in 2023–2024.

However, Marnie Salonius, resource development and public relations at CLOC, says the organization is still unsure as to how much money it will receive from that $310 million over a three-year period.

“What we have not been told is how the ministry will flow the money to all of the services associated,” Salonius said.

“There are other organizations such as violence, human trafficking, children’s aid type services, so we don’t know really how much money of that we are actually going to see.”

One service at risk of no longer being accessible is the drumming circle.

Dan Reiff is a professional musician who provides his service once a month to Community Living.

He said it’s unfortunate these kinds of services are struggling to get by, but he isn’t surprised by the current provincial government.

“I mean, not to get political, but that’s just our provincial government, right?” he said. “I’m sure they’re not exactly friends with education, healthcare or these social services”

Angela Walsh also supports people at Community Living. She’s convinced activities like these are not only fun, but also impactful.

“First of all, I think they’re having a good time and there is something about making music that you don’t realize the impact it has on your well-being,” Walsh said.

Community Living is important to many people, including Day, who frequently gives speeches at places such as Durham College about the importance of the organization to her.

Day said CLOC has changed her life, making her “more perky”. She said the organization made her a “good person to talk to” which she channels into her public speaking to support something that supported her throughout her life.