Community Living Manitoulin brainstorms new programming after consignment store closure

MINDEMOYA—The recent decision by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Community and Social Services to stop the funding of shelter workshops has meant that Community Living Manitoulin (CLM) has had to shut down its Everything Under the Sun consignment store.

As CLM executive director (ED) Tammie Molenaar explained at a meeting held February 1, the organization will now focus on employment, volunteering and participation in community activities with the store closing and empty at the end of February and reopening shortly after as a community participation building.

“We will focus on what we can do in the community,” Ms. Molenaar said, “and partner with different parts.” The examples that she used included doing employment reports, building resumes, volunteering for jobs, and hosting training sessions for volunteers. “People could volunteer to help, say, with a Christmas tea and so on,” she added.

Wendy Friesen, manager of community services and coordinator of care, also headed the meeting and she and Ms. Molenaar had many ideas of what the new role of CLM members would now be. They envision activities at the store, but also outside of it. For example, there could be help with the Walk for Cancer, delivery of newsletters, posters and so on throughout the community while art shows and classes, music classes and suppers could take place in the newly refurbished building. People could look at the board in the centre and see what is available and sign up for activities, not just in Mindemoya, but all over the Island.

As ideas were put forth, members of the audience then joined in with ideas for participation. CLM member Yvonne Bondi talked of a member who “just loves curffle” and suggested that others might want to join and either participate in the sport or they could serve coffee or do dishes at the curling rink. She also added that perhaps an ongoing fundraising could be in place.

Tyler Madahbee, the youth board member of CLM, had some great ideas, saying, “we would love to start a dart league, and we could participate in things done socially in the evenings and weekends.” He also added that a cooking group would be a good idea. “I would participate in that,” he said, “or a cooking on a budget type of thing.” Mr. Madahbee also suggested that perhaps next winter, members of the community could take out snowshoes and skis from CLM.

Other suggestions included readings at the building, pottery demonstrations, and exercise and yoga classes. CLM board member Sam Bondi suggested connecting with the library, saying, “there are lots of things going on there.” With computers and knitting groups, the library would be a good resource he suggested. “The Lions Club might be another resource,” he added.

It was also noted that the CLM Supported Independent Living (SIL) group was pretty independent and perhaps they could do such things as go to the grocery store with a grocery list.

CLM is also looking for support from the community. “I hope that people in the community come out and support us,” Ms. Friesen said. “To support us and use the new participation centre, knowing that it is for everyone and then develop new relationships.”

A concern was raised that perhaps staff would have to be juggled to get people out. To this, Ms. Molenaar said, “we want every single person out. Even for a single hour. Our job is to encourage, to get people out. We must give them the opportunity to try.”

Another concern was raised by Mr. Madahbee, who said that people were worried about the closing of the store would mean the end of other jobs. He was assured that the maintenance jobs in question, such as cutting grass and so on, would be maintained.

The meeting ended with words from Ms. Molenaar. “There will be bumps in the road,” she said, “but we will face them head on. We have a goal, we have a vision and we will act on it.”