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Dean's Story

“We never have to worry about Dean. He is so happy, and so are we.”

All parents want the best for their children, and Karen Little believes that her son Dean has found it at VOI.  Dean, a bubbly and friendly 25 year old participant of the Day Service in Portage la Prairie, transitioned into VOI straight from high school. From the very start, Karen felt that VOI was a great fit for her son.  “From the very first meeting, I felt so comfortable talking with the staff,” Karen says. “And they were so warm and welcoming of Dean. I knew it would be a great place for him.”

Dean has been part of the VOI family for the past four years. During this time, Karen says that he has benefited greatly from the individualized attention and the focus on developing his skills, both socially and as a volunteer in the local workforce.  “The programming always strives to see what Dean can do,” says Karen, “They recognize exactly where Dean is, and do their best to encourage him to get out of his own little bubble and reach for more.”

One of Karen’s proudest moments as a parent was this past year when, for the first time, Dean voted in the provincial election. This is something that VOI helped facilitate by teaching participants about democracy and the electoral process.

“I never thought that he’d vote,” says Karen. “It’s just something I never really considered. But through this, I realized that there was no reason why he couldn’t vote. He’s an adult, and he can make up his own mind. That was a really proud moment for us in our family.”
Karen is so thrilled by the variety of experiences that Dean has had through VOI, and Dean shows no signs of slowing down. Every day at VOI, there is something exciting to experience – whether it’s a pottery lesson, a class on sign language, or getting a foot massage – there’s something new to capture Dean’s imagination.

“He gets incredibly frustrated on days when he’s sick or for some reason can’t attend the program!” Karen laughs. “Every morning, he is up and ready to bounce out the door. Like most kids, he just wants to get away from his parents now and then and be with people he really cares about.”

Karen can’t imagine a better place for Dean to keep growing and learning. She says for Dean, VOI is really like a second home and a part of his family.

“The VOI family is really something to be proud of,” says Karen. “Each and every day they are striving to bring the outside world in, and encouraging him to let his inner world out.”

Brett's Story

“I’m just so incredibly proud of Brett,” says Nancy Miller about her son Brett. “He’s a hard worker, he’s friendly and outgoing, and he tries hard to put the needs of other people first.”

Brett, who is 23, first got involved with VOI because of his best friend, Dean Little. Dean and Brett’s families live right across the lane from each other, and when Nancy heard just how wonderful Dean’s experience was at VOI, she thought it might be a great place for Brett to be as well.

“Brett was happy to be with his friends from high school,” says Nancy. “And I was impressed with just how caring and attentive all the staff were from the very first day.”

Brett’s involvement with the Day Service has given him many opportunities to learn new skills and find meaningful work in the community. The ability to gain employment skills alongside his best friends has been a rewarding experience for Brett and for his family.
“He surprises himself, I think,” Nancy says. “He’s able and capable of doing things he never thought he’d try. He is a much more confident person, and he believes in his own success.”

Nancy is so impressed with the VOI staff and their commitment to Brett’s learning.

“Everyone works together, everyone is a team,” says Nancy. “The people at VOI make him feel like he can do anything. And now he knows he can.”

Ivan's Story

“It gives me great happiness to know he is cared for.”

Louis Bynski is a 73 year old retiree. He spends his time volunteering, gardening, and enjoying time with his family.

This includes his 69 year old brother, Ivan, who lives in a VOI home in Winnipeg. Ivan has been in the VOI Residential Service for the past decade, and Louis feels there couldn’t be a better place for him.

“It’s a real home for Ivan,” says Louis. “He has friends of his own and people who really care for him. We’re happy for him because he has everything he needs.”

Ivan had been living with his elderly mother before transitioning to VOI. When his mother fell ill, Louis knew he needed to find a good place for Ivan to call home.

“I’m an old guy myself,” says Louis. “I wanted him to have a good place and to be cared for, but I simply couldn’t do it myself.”

Since then, Ivan has called VOI home, and has been happily enjoying what has become like a second family to him. He currently lives with two roommates, and enjoys the company of the VOI staff who are with him 24/7 to make sure he is comfortable and happy.
“He gets out a lot too,” says Louis. “They go outside and get fresh air. They’re always doing crafts and activities. He’s always busy doing something.”

On weekends and holidays, Louis brings Ivan over to his home to spend time with their family. And Louis regularly stops by Ivan’s home to have coffee and visit. They enjoy watching TV together, something Louis says he really enjoys doing with his brother.
“He’s always getting me into new shows,” Louis laughs. “He keeps me on my toes!”

Louis always feels welcome in Ivan’s home, and is so pleased by the care that Ivan receives. He believes it was a great move for Ivan to finally be in a place of his own.

“There’s a real family atmosphere,” says Louis. “They have parties and BBQs. A real sense of togetherness. I can tell that Ivan really loves it.”

Louis doesn’t have to worry about Ivan. The compassionate staff of VOI take wonderful care of him, so Louis can focus on enjoying his brotherly visits with Ivan.

“He’s happy, and we’re happy,” says Louis. “We’re close, and he has everything he could possibly need. I have a real sense of peace knowing that he will always be taken care of.”

Parent Testimonial: Linda

“I had a hard time finding the right place for Kyle. Our OT suggested VOI, and I’m happy we tried it.

“Kyle is a lot calmer now. He really likes the routine and enjoys all the outings. I love bringing him here, too. He’s much more relaxed and I’m a lot less stressed. I love that he gets out as much as he does. He gets to see the world in a way he never really did before.

“We’re all part of the VOI family – the staff, the parents, and the children. It is a very good feeling.”

Parent Testimonial: Rose

“Aimee was our first born. She is a world traveller and has been to New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, South Africa as well as many countries in Europe. Summers always included camping trips across Canada and the United States. Aimee is a people person and is friendly with everyone. As a family, we always encouraged volunteering and helping people out and to do our very best.

“Aimee wanted a new experience and asked her social worker to facilitate her move to VOI.

“The staff at VOI were quick to find her strengths and asked her to do some public speaking. Aimee enjoyed that so much and she was so proud of her efforts. I think that the staff make such an effort to be inclusive and it is heartwarming to see.

“Aimee was offered a variety of work and volunteer experiences to try out - some worked out and some didn't, but at least she was given the chance. At this point in time my greatest pleasure is to see Aimee enjoying new experiences. Her latest excitement is being able to work at the Splash Island Canteen.

“Aimee's experience with VOI staff has been nothing short of extraordinary. They care for her as a member of a family and help her grow in experience and as a person. I am deeply grateful for VOI for their care and affection shown to my daughter. Aimee feels valued, loved and cared for and what more can a parent ask for.

“As parents of a child with special needs we often think that we know what is best for our children but sometimes we just have to let them try their wings so they can learn how to fly and that is what VOI offers them.”

Deana's Story

Ever since Deana was a little girl she had Epilepsy and suffered Grand Mal seizures which often resulted in injuries from falls. She seemed to get progressively worse and it was a worrisome responsibility trying to meet her daily health care needs. I struggled alone to keep her safe at home for years, even when other personal stresses developed. My own health began to suffer greatly.

I heard about the Developmental Support Services offered by Visions of Independence from others at work. This Service seemed well suited to meet Deana’s many needs. I decided to explore this option.

The Visions Day Service offered individualized support services, varied and interesting activities on-site, as well as in the community. Visions support staff were committed to assist with whatever an individual’s needs might be. The Visions staff was very easy to talk to, and seemed to share my belief that my daughter deserved as rich a life as those less challenged. Not only did they listen with great understanding, they were able to reassure me that Deana would have excellent care. They also assured me that Deana would be able to enjoy not only recreational activities, but the opportunity to volunteer and find work placements as her abilities enabled.

Deana moved into her new home under the care of Visions of Independence during the summer of 2009. Visions’ staff truly cared for Deana’s well-being like I thought only I, as her mother, would ever do.

I came to trust that Deana would have excellent care in all circumstances. I realized I had my own life back! I could go away for a weekend and know that she was in good hands. After so many years of feeling the burden of her care solely on my shoulders, I was no longer alone.

I am so grateful for all the support Deana receives under Visions of Independence care and the quality of life she receives! Visions staff and services help give me peace-of-mind that is irreplaceable. Next to a Mother’s love and commitment, there is no better care available.

As told to L. Hilhorst

Winston’s Story

Winston has shown us what it means, to realize your potential. His accomplishments are humbling. I've never seen a young man with such determination overcome so many obstacles and reach his goals. I couldn't be more impressed.” Shannon Harley, Director of Services Winnipeg.

Winston has been with VOI since February of 2010 when he moved to Winnipeg from a small northern Manitoba community. It was his 18th birthday. After taking time to settle in with his new roommate and adjust to city living, Winston began attending school in September. He had not attended school since he was 12 years old. He started slowly, attending half days and having staff assist. He soon was immersed in his studies full time making the honors list in 2011 and 2012. Winston graduated from high school with honors in June of 2013. Congratulations Winston!

While attending to his studies, he also started a part time job at the Fishing Hole in 2012 and has added an additional part time position since graduation. Winston’s goal is to move out into his own apartment with minimal supports; he gets closer to his goal each and every day. When asked what Winston thinks of VOI he responds “I like it here, people treat me right”.