Gavin and others have rejoined their community with United Way support
United Way gave purpose, friendship and activity back to a young man named Gavin, and his friends at a farming program in Duncan.
The program provides job skills, farm work and a community for adults with developmental disabilities.
The farm is a working vegetable and animal farm that produces meat, wool, dairy, various greens, candles, handicrafts and more. Its programs are created based on the principle that each person contributes what they are capable and in return gets what they need.
Called Companions, some of these adults live on the farm full time, while others participate in day programming.
However, Gavin and other members of the day program were told they had to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, thanks to a grant from United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island and the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund, Gavin and his buddies are back at work.
“We go to the garden and harvest leaves, and we do …. put it in dehydrators ... And we do hot drinks and hot teas … and herb salt,” says Gavin, explaining his current work schedule. “I like it here,” he says.
“Every single day, he mentioned that he was waiting for COVID and the virus to be gone so that he could get back to work at the farm,” says Gavin’s mom, Judy.
While the farm program gives Gavin and his buddies a chance to contribute to society and to obtain skills, one of the most important aspects of the program is getting to socialize and be part of a community, says Olivia who works with Companions in the program.
“Especially with COVID, it’s really hard to have group gatherings, and for people to hang out with each other. So here, we’re able to follow the health and safety protocol while still having that sense of community and being able to be with friends.”
Support from United Way is what made the extra hiring and the extra cost of pandemic safety procedures achievable for the day program.
“I can’t imagine not having a place like this, not having a place for him to go like this, because it gives me such a peace of mind,” says Judy. “I know he’s safe. I know he’s happy. It gives him a sense of belonging, and it gives him a reason.”
“Now that Gavin is of age and he has this place to come … to work, I feel like I’m complete.”