Pulford Community Living Services makes social impact a top priority

Providing support for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Winnipeg-based Pulford Community Living Services looks ahead to the future — expanding programs, day services and partnerships with fellow community-minded organizations. 

Read part one: Winnipeg organization is building independence and a place to call home 

“An equal and inclusive world.” The vision of Pulford Community Living Services resonates in everything they do for their participants and the community.

We always look for new opportunities to have a social impact in the communities we work in, so we’re exploring ways to expand into Winnipeg and into the Interlake region, likely with some small social enterprise ventures,” said Rod Retelback, Pulford’s Executive Director.

Putting a focus on the individual’s unique goals and abilities, Pulford currently offers day services that can make a lasting impact. These services help participants find employment or volunteer work, find recreation opportunities or embark on any type of personal development that aims at increasing their independence. And their program reach extends much further…

Providing essential services and further social impact

Pulford also owns and operates several social enterprises, where participants can work and learn transferable skills. Several are located in Ste. Anne, where day service participants work at a second-hand store, a small recycling operation and on a local work crew. In 2017, Pulford’s social enterprises provided more than 50,000 hours of job training and employment for people with intellectual disabilities.

Pulford Community Living Services
L-R: Staff members and day service participants Nicole Harrison, Lisa Yerma, Jordyn Wilk-Case, Tammy Bersier, Aquila Down and Nicole Cianflone at Pulford’s second-hand store in Ste. Anne.

In Winnipeg, Pulford rents or donates space at its Waverley Street headquarters, primarily to organizations working in similar fields.

We have some extra space and we have a large classroom where we do staff training,” Rod explained. “Our first goal is to offer it to community-based organizations, which we offer at a great rate.”

“We also belong to Abilities Manitoba which is an organization of like-minded non-profit groups and they are using some of our space right now for free. It’s about helping our organizational field in general. We’ve had a great response.”

Pulford also supports youth living with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in the care of a child welfare agency as they reach adult age. In doing so, they provide continuity of service and a minimum of disruption by maintaining them in a placement after they turn 18.

Also offered by Pulford is support programming for families. This can take the form of respite services, promotion of community participation or help building new skills to facilitate independence.

Future plans: Continued advocacy and new opportunities

Pulford has had a strong relationship with Assiniboine Credit Union for many years — even before Rod came on as the organization’s executive director two decades ago.

ACU has been a great partner over the years, helping us with the financing for our homes and some renovation needs,” he said. “They’ve even contributed a large sum for the two homes we’re working to build, so we’re very grateful to them for that. They’ve been really easy to work with when it comes time for us to purchase or build a home.”

Pulford Community Living Services
L-R: Bobby-Jo Caron, Maggie Bueckert and Pierre Lansard pick up recycling as part of Pulford’s Ste. Anne recycling operation.

Into the future, Rod said Pulford will continue to be an avid proponent of community-living and will look to expand its services. “We’re looking at developing community-based day programs to meet the needs of people who have an intellectual disability and also a physical disability,” he said. “Right now, I don’t think that need is being met.”

We’re going to be developing an expansion of our day program and services for people to be involved in the city of Winnipeg in some capacity. We’re hoping to really focus on person-centred planning, creating our services based on the needs of the people we support and really focusing on family involvement, volunteers and building relationships in the community.”

Pulford will also continue to advocate, along with its partners, for breaking down barriers for those living in the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Rod reinforced that while society has come a long way, advocacy is still needed in areas including health care and the education system.

“I see more acceptance, especially with the younger generation — they really seem to embrace the idea of having people with developmental disabilities in the community as full, participating citizens,” he said. “That has been a real change. But there needs to be better training for health-care practitioners to understand the complex needs of some of the people we support.”

Partnering to break down barriers

Pulford is working with St.Amant on a new initiative.

The social committee at Pulford Community Living Services Inc. meets on Aug. 10, 2018, led by committee chairperson Holly Thede (right).There’s a new program out of St.Amant that offers a nurse to come in and do that sort of assessment,” he said, referring to the ways they’ll better understand individual needs. “That’s brand new, so we’re going to be partnering with St.Amant to help those really vulnerable people make that transition to a doctor.”

Pulford Community Living Services

While there continue to be barriers for those with complex developmental and medical issues to live independently outside of institutions, Rod is hopeful.

It’s about staying the course and continuing to meet the needs of people wanting to transition into the community,” he said. “There’s now common thinking out there that community living is better for most people. It just comes down to dollars and cents.”

“A lot of folks who are still in the institutions have complex medical needs, so there’d have to be some very strategic planning put in place to move them into the community. But I’m confident it will happen and everybody will move into the community in Manitoba.”

For more information, visit the Pulford Community Living Services website.

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About Jason Halstead

Jason is a Winnipeg-based journalist and photographer who has been published across Canadian media.

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