Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Philanthropy: 'We can just be mom and dad'

Pulford offers 'real lifetime commitment' to people with developmental disabilities

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Bob and Karen Webb with their daughters Karly (left) and Courtney at their Pulford Community Living Services home.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Bob and Karen Webb with their daughters Karly (left) and Courtney at their Pulford Community Living Services home. "It's been a great experience", says Bob. Photo Store

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned"

 

- Maya Angelou

 

Twins Courtney and Karly Webb asked about flying from the family nest when they were in their mid teens.

The now 25-year-olds, who were diagnosed with cerebral palsy when they were young children, were in high school when their parents started exploring their options for residences after graduation.

Thanks to Pulford Community Living Services Inc., the pair not only have a place to live, but a place where they have lived together for the last three years.

"I like being here -- my parents aren't here," a beaming Karly said recently in the living room of the nicely kept four bedroom bungalow in south Winnipeg provided by Pulford for the pair and two other women.

"I go shopping. I did my nails."

"I have lots of friends," said Courtney.

"It's great here."

Pulford was created in 1986 to provide non-institutionalized residential and day supports for adults living with developmental disabilities. It is a not-for-profit community-based organization.

Rod Retelback, Pulford's executive director, said the organization was started when it was learned there were three people living in the community in Osborne Village after being moved from the Manitoba Developmental Centre in Portage la Prairie whose live-in caregiver could no longer look after them.

Retelback said a community member went to his friends and fellow parishioners at the nearby St. Augustine Church and they set up a board of directors and an organization to look after the three.

The organization's first office -- in the basement of the church -- was off Pulford Street and that's how it got its name.

Retelback said the organization now supports 155 people in 35 homes in three regions of the province: Winnipeg, the Interlake, and Ste. Anne.

John Pollard, who has been the chairman of Pulford's board of directors since 1987, said "it has been a very rewarding experience.

"The people here are supported and they are terrifically positive and interesting people. Our goal is to move people to even more independent living. The goal is not to provide perpetual support, but to grow to a more independent lifestyle.

"We hope we are helping a little bit."

Pollard said people living with disabilities face many challenges through their lives.

"We make a real point of saying we make a real lifetime commitment when they come to Pulford. This isn't just a temporary step."

In fact, Pollard says Pulford has now been around so long, it has already had its earlier residents live the rest of their lives with the organization.

"It's like losing a member of the family," he said.

Pollard said the day-to-day care of the residents and household expenses come out of the funding provided by the provincial government and family services. He said the organization fundraises to pay the down payment to purchase the homes where the residents live.

Pulford offers several services, including residential services, outreach supports to families, day services and supported independent living.

Pulford's mission statement says it commits to ensure "that individuals with developmental disabilities served by the agency have all the rights and opportunities of community living... (Pulford) will accomplish this by providing appropriate support to each individual."

Courtney and Karly's parents, Karen and Bob, said Pulford offers exactly what they were hoping for their daughters.

"Their older sister had started talking about working and moving out and so did they," Karen said.

"I started contacting agencies to find out more and I came across Pulford. I felt comfortable with them and I visited some homes. It all started to be less scary.

"Now I can't believe the growth in them. It really was time. A person told us you can become a parent again and you don't have to be the educator and trainer.

"We are very involved, but it really is true. We can just be mom and dad."

Bob said: "it has been a great experience.

"Before this you felt like you were on the edge of a cliff -- Pulford was a huge safety net. My daughters now have more friends and social life than before."

"When they come to our place," Karen added, "they now call (the Pulford house) their home."

The sisters each have their own bedroom and they are expected to help with the housework when they return home after going into the community to work and volunteer.

The best part of living on your own away from your parents? Courtney and Karly say it's getting to choose what you have for dinner and cooking it.

"I like the suppers," Courtney said.

"My favourite -- any type of meal -- is French toast."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 B4

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