Doreen Lee made a life-changing decision when she walked through the doors of Highland Community Residential Services.
It is difficult for those who know her now to believe that her life was much different before she joined the HCRS assisted-living community a decade ago.
“For the most part Doreen led a sedentary life,” says her longtime support staff Gerri Lynn White of HCRS. “She was struggling with diabetes, had few friends and social supports, and was relying on family for her daily needs.”
With a lot of hard work, Lee started to change her lifestyle, making healthier choices, and expanding her social connections. At HCRS, she had peers to walk with, eat healthy meals, and share cheat days. She learned to be a good roommate and good friend. With every success, her confidence grew. She became interested in getting out more, connecting with others, and planning to attend her first dance.
As an organization committed to ensuring inclusion in community life for persons living with an intellectual disability, HCRS was there to support Lee every step of the way. But, White says, the success is all hers.
“Doreen’s success is without a doubt due to her positive attitude, her zest for life, and willingness to try new experiences.”
Today Lee no longer needs a cane and has gone from a size 5X to 14. Her life is a busy schedule of social, recreational, work, volunteer, and family activities.
“I like to be out in the community,” she said.
At 69, she shows no signs of slowing down. She keeps fit at the YMCA and by going for walks on the Samson Trail. She works at Summer Street’s New Beginnings, helping to sort donations for the store, and has volunteered at Kids First as a way to honour her best friend Barb, who passed away last year.
HCRS is celebrating 40 years of supporting individuals with intellectual disability or mental health challenges to live independently in community. The organization supports 90 persons through its residential services, 180 persons through its respite and day programs, and 200 staff who provide personalized supports promoting wellness, personal dignity, and human rights.
To mark this milestone, they will be hosting a special reception at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., which will feature a photo essay exhibit called “A Day in the Life of HCRS.” The community is invited to come hear some of the stories that are the hallmark of the kinder, more joyful community HCRS is creating. To learn more visit www.HCRSweb.ca.