Winnipeg organization is building independence and a place to call home

Pulford Community Living Services provides residential services for those living with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Established in 1986, Winnipeg-based Pulford Community Living Services had a vision that would expand over three decades to make a lasting impact on people’s quality of life. This not-for-profit community-focused organization provides support for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities — to live independently with the right support.

It’s easy to get a sense of Pulford’s mission when you look back to the organization’s founding story.

It was November 1986 and the closure of a Winnipeg guest home threatened to leave three people living with developmental disabilities without a place to live independently. With help from Pulford, these community members were able to move into their own home on Fleet Avenue by December 1, and the organization got its start.

Pulford came together out of the specific needs of three people who were at risk of going back to the Manitoba Developmental Centre in Portage la Prairie,” said Rod Retelback, Pulford’s Executive Director for the last 20 years.

“We started out to keep people in the community. Our mandate has changed over the years to also support people in the community who want to leave their parental homes. But we’ve always had a major focus on people moving from an institution into community living, wherever that may be,” Rod explains.

Winnipeg organization Pulford Community Living Services provides support for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Director of organizational development Andy Russo (left) and executive director Rod Retelback sit in one of the meeting rooms at Pulford Community Living Services Inc. rented out or loaned to groups as part of one of Pulford’s social enterprise endeavours.

Since then, Pulford has continuously offered housing and other support services to people with developmental disabilities. Pulford works to encourage and realize individuals’ ability to live and grow in ways the individuals themselves see fit.

“Everybody should have the right to choose where they live and in what community they live,” Rod said.

Guiding principles and a mission for change

It all fits right in with Pulford’s vision statement, “An equal and inclusive world.”

From day one, Pulford’s philosophy reflected the Vulnerable Persons Act (VPA), which was later formalized in 1996. The guiding principles of the VPA presume vulnerable people are able to make their own decisions and should be encouraged to do so.

Pulford’s mission is part of the larger societal shift over recent decades to move away from an institutional model when it comes to those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Currently serving about 150 people in Manitoba, Pulford is funded through the provincial Department of Families, which also refers community members to the organization’s services. Pulford also embarks on fundraising campaigns throughout the year to raise its own building capital.

We also receive referrals from families and directly from St.Amant, which is another well-established organization working with Manitobans living with developmental disabilities,” Rod said.

Winnipeg organization Pulford Community Living Services provides support for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities
L-R: Bobby-Jo Caron, Maggie Bueckert and Pierre Lansard pick up recycling as part of Pulford’s Ste. Anne recycling operation.

Pulford’s programs include residential services that provide housing and support for Manitobans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They also provide supported independent living, where staff help participants living on their own in areas of their choice. Some of these areas may include budgeting, nutrition and house maintenance, among others.

Creating homes within the community

On the residential side, Pulford currently owns 35 homes in Winnipeg, the Interlake region and the town of Ste. Anne. “Residential care is basically a 24-hour staffing model,” Rod said. “Supported independent living is anywhere from eight hours a day to eight hours a week, and residential homes are typically staffed 24 hours a day.”

Beyond just personal safety and security, Pulford works to help its clients gain a sense of ownership of their living space, encouraging and assisting them to partake in the daily tasks of tending to their home and to develop meaningful roles in the surrounding community.

Pulford has been partnering with St.Amant for the last couple of years to foster independent living, helping to transition folks out of the institution on River Road and into the community.

To date, we’ve renovated two homes together to accommodate these individuals moving to the community. Not only do they have an intellectual disability, they also live with physical disabilities, so there are some mobility issues. We’re also currently in the process of finding a contractor as we look to build two accessible homes for more people.”

The new homes will feature suites for residents with and without mobility issues. “We’ve been around for 32 years — a lot of the folks we support are aging and their needs have changed. So we’ve had to renovate the homes we have,” Rod explained. “Going forward, it’s much easier to just build with accessibility in mind from the start.”

Pulford has been a long-term ACU member since August of 1992, and ACU has been proud to provide support through the organization’s growth process, including 29 mortgages.

Continue reading part two of the story: Learn how Pulford will grow their essential service offerings and continue to expand their positive social impact on the community.

About Jason Halstead

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

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