Lisa McIntosh will be celebrating 32 years of service with Communitas this year. Over the last three decades, Lisa has seen a lot of changes but one thing remains constant: the commitment of the organization to the people it serves.
Lisa was a student at Columbia Bible College (CBC) when she connected with Communitas, (then called MCC Supportive Care Services.) As part of her studies at CBC, she was expected to participate in service opportunities or internships organized by the college. She chose Communitas for her service opportunity and stayed because she truly enjoyed the work. She never imagined that she would still be here 30 years later.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Lisa felt that the work was a good fit, bringing together her degree in Psychology and her degree in Biblical Studies.
“I stayed because I was having fun,” Lisa says. “The people were very accepting even though this was my first adventure in working with people who live with disabilities. I’m not sure I was making a difference in their lives but they were sure making a difference in mine.”
Lisa grew into her role as a Support Worker and then became the manager of a home. She currently works as a manager of the Community Living Program (CLP), which supports people with developmental disabilities living in community.
Over the years, she has seen a lot of change. The organization has grown to serve more than 800 people in multiple geographic regions. Resources that were once plentiful have diminished over time, resulting in a need to do “more with less” and find creative ways to maintain the quality of service that people deserve. But what has not changed is the focus of the work.
“The people we serve have always been the centre of how we treat all people, what we do, and how we do it,” she says.
I believe all people are created in the image of God and need to be treated as such. I think this has made our organization unique. – Lisa, CLP manager
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE
There are definitely challenges in this work. Finding consistent resources to help people live abundant lives can sometimes be a struggle. The necessary paperwork, procedures, and policies can feel dehumanizing at times. But at the end of the day, it’s the people that matter most. It is the people served by Communitas that drew Lisa to her work, kept her here, and continue to inspire her.
“The favourite part of my job is watching people grow and succeed,” Lisa says. “For someone, it might be getting a job and for someone else, it might be learning to tie their shoelaces. Both are incredibly satisfying and it changes a person’s life. That’s what is cool.”
Lisa says she’s also seen a change in the people we serve and in society’s acceptance.
“The people we serve are more accepted as valuable members of society than when I first started. They are now seen as people having skills, gifts, rights, responsibilities, goals, dreams, and the desires of all humans,” she says. “This is really evident with the younger people we serve who have grown up with the experience of being part of an inclusive community. And this is a testament to the work that Communitas and other organizations have done over time.”
(photo at top: Lisa with staff and people served celebrating Christmas in 2016.)
When Adria reflects on her journey towards mental wellness, she recognizes that the journey began with a reconnection to her indigenous roots.
John and his daughter, Himali both work for Communitas. Though their work is in different settings, they’ve had the same meaningful career experience.