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Community Living Welland Pelham Yesterday and Today

It has been almost 60 years that Community Living Welland Pelham has been providing quality service and supports to people with an intellectual disability and their families. Community Living Welland Pelham is looking forward to the future, while not forgetting the past.


  • A mother of a child with the diagnosis of mental retardation places a notice in the local newspaper asking if there are other children with a similar diagnosis in the community
  • The Welland District Council for Retarded Children is formed soon afterwards the name is changed to The Welland District Association for Retarded Children (WDAMR) and becomes a charter affiliate of the Ontario Association for Retarded Children. Asmall daycare is established with 9 children attending in the care of a volunteer teacher. The daycare continues to grow and 58 children are attending with paid staff teaching the children.
  • Empress Avenue School officially opens
  • ARC Industries opens a program for adults

1962 - 1973

  • The preschool Jack and Jill opens and 9 children attend
  • Westwood Residence a 28 bed facility opens in Fenwick
  • Jack and Jill nursery moves to Westwood Residence

1976 - 1985

  • Ministry of Community and Social Services gives approval to operate an adult group home first group home is opened on Young Street more group homes are opened and small groups of people move from Westwood to these homes.
  • ARC Industries and the administrative offices are relocated to 43 Hagar Street
  • The association receives a PASSING (Program Analysis of Service Systems) review completed on all aspect of the agency review initiates the movement towards a more individualized approach to support service.
  • ARC Industries, branches out and opens Community Options. people receive work and training opportunities with support in regular employment situations.WDAMR is one of the first agencies in Ontario to spearhead Community Options
  • WDAMR establishes a goal is to reduce the number of people sharing supports at Westwood Residence the first Family Support Home is open,3 more homes open shortly after and a goal of opening 10 Family Homes is set.
  • With funding from a Trillium grant a Leisure Program is started. The Leisure Program joins groups of friends to plan and participate in community activities with the help of volunteersthis program later becomes the Leisure/Volunteer Program.
  • The Welland District Association for the Mentally Retarded changes its name to the Welland District Association for Community Living (WDACL) The name change decreases the emphasis on the label of “mentally retarded” and promotes inclusion in our community. WDACL becomes a member agency of United Way of South Niagara. This funding received from United Way is used to operate the Leisure/Volunteer Program.


  • Jack and Jill Nursery School changes its name to Welland Preschool Services. Welland Preschool begins placing children in daycare centres throughout the city, this was then known as integration
  • Vocational Services launches its' first Summer Work Program,this program provides work experience for teenagers, ages 16-21.
  • ARC Industries changes its' name to Employment Options.Vocational Services launches the Integrated College Program a one year pilot project with Niagara College.
  • The School-to-Work Transition Program begins at Notre Dame and Eastdale High Schools in Welland
  • Community Support "Leisure Interests" begins.
  • New Mission Statement: “An inclusive caring community where all people belong and have equal opportunity to participate effectively.”
  • A decision to close Westwood Residence is based on the philosophy that people can be supported in the community and better reflects our mission statement.
  • A social skills and sexuality training course for people with intellectual disabilities is established by Residential Services (soon to change to Residential Alternatives) this course is offered to other agencies throughout the region.
  • Welland Preschool Services has partnerships with 10 childcare centres throughout the community. Children are placed in these centres and supports are provided by Preschool Services. Welland Preschool Services moves to a new childcare centre located on the Niagara College campus this is considered a pilot project and 4 children with special needs are placed at the Niagara College Daycare Centre. Welland Preschool Services is the first in the Niagara Region to be fully inclusive, with all children attending childcare centres in their own neighbourhoods.
  • Community Options moves from Hagar Street to the Seaway Mall
  • Employment Options changes it’s name to Welland Packaging and Assembling to better reflect the work it is doing.

1998- 2009

  • Five years after the decision was made to close Westwood Residence, the last remaining person at Westwood moves into the community on September 28th and 29th, all Residential Alternatives staff relocate to offices in downtown Welland Westwood officially closes its' doors on September 30.
  • In 1999 the Fundraising Committee plan a walk-a-thon in order to raise funds for wheelchair accessible vans during the initial planning stages for the walk-a-thon, Jackie Espaniel, a 20-year employee of the agency, dies unexpectedly Jackie was a senior support worker and was highly respected by the people she supported and her peers the walk is named in her honour and 'Jackie's Walk' becomes an annual fundraising event.
  • Administration, Family Support, Residential Alternatives, Volunteer and Leisure Services, and Social Skills and Sexuality are located together on East Main Street, Welland. Aday supports program also operates from this location. The day support program is for adults with intellectual disabilities who do not attend Vocational Services, it continues to be a goal of the Association to have all the above programs in one accessible location.
  • In 2001, The former Pauline McGibbon School at 535 Sutherland Ave., Welland is purchased and plans are developed to relocate the offices currently located on East Main Street. Renovations are necessary to change this former school into a wheelchair accessible office a $500,000 Coming Home Capital Campaign, under the leadership of Terry Donahue, is launched.
  • In partnership with Brock University, a grant is received in June to develop a questionnaire and conduct interviews with the people we support in order to discover if/what kinds of rights restrictions exist within the agency. Two students from Brock University are hired for the summer to conduct this research and subsequently develop a human rights education program to teach people we support, as well as staff, about people's rights and how to advocate for them. In November 2001, the Board of Directors creates the Quality Assurance Committee.
  • Community Options becomes an approved service provider for the Ontario Disability Supports Program - Employment Supports
  • On January 28 and 29, 2002 Administration, Residential Alternatives, Family Support and Volunteer Services move to 535 Sutherland Ave.
  • A dream has been realized! and renovations to the building continue throughout the year. Supervisors from Canadian Tire Financial Services spend a day to paint the boardroom, day supports room, and do some landscaping. Anumber of Canadian Tire supervisors and employees of WDACL volunteer to complete the painting throughout the building.
  • WDACL launches its' Rights Facilitation Committee in June 2002. An initial meeting with the committee members is held, involving an overview of the mandate, responsibilities, functions, membership, Human Rights Complaint Form, agency's Rights Statement, and Human Rights complaint procedure.
  • Garden of Friends summer camp starts and operates for 4 weeks in July.
  • The Association launches The Connecting Initiative in October with an orientation session with parents. The Connecting Initiative, which looks at how the agency can support families in building connections in the community, becomes the groundwork for the development of Lifestyle Planning.
  • Welland District Association for Community Living is now known as Community Living Welland Pelham (CLWP)
  • January 9, 2003 we officially kick off our 50th anniversary by hosting an open house at 535 Sutherland Ave. During the open house, we have our ribbon cutting ceremony as we have officially come home to our permanent site, Hundreds of people tour the building and enjoy the party!
  • Original mission statement - "An Inclusive Caring Community Where All People Belong and Have Equal Opportunity to Participate Effectively" becomes our vision statement
  • New mission statement is developed – “Advocate for, promote and facilitate the full participation, inclusion and citizenship of people who have an intellectual disability"
  • Community Living Welland Pelham's new strategic plan, created by Dr. Dorothy Griffiths and John Lord, is reviewed CLWP host the first annual Dinner Dance/Silent Auction on Saturday, November 15, in celebration of our 50th anniversary Roger Kucy of Picture Perfect chairs our Dinner Dance/Silent Auction.
  • Community Living Welland Pelham and Brock University continue to work in partnership to teach rights and responsibilities to the people we support, their families, and the staff. Grants received from The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian Institute of Health Research, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation enable this program to be expanded throughout the Niagara Region. The project becomes known as the 3Rs Human Rights: Rights, Respect, and Responsibility.
  • Research on Lifestyle Planning begins in January 2004
  • By January 2005, Lifestyle Planning involves people living in group homes or with a family home provider.
  • March 2005, initial Outcomes interviews with participants of the research are conducted.
  • Welland Packaging and Assembling creates a "no new admission" policy in order to properly reflect the agency's direction towards inclusion this policy has no effect on the people already receiving supports at WPA people attending Welland Packaging and Assembling create the Labour Power Group and become directly involved in the decision-making process at WPA. The Labour Power Group decides which contracts they will take on and how those involved will share the revenue from each contract.
  • Due to the success and growth of the program, Community Options moves to a larger office space within the Seaway Mall
  • Community Options changes its' name to Community Living Employment Services.
  • Community Living Welland Pelham and the City of Welland partner to provide an inclusive camp experience for children ages 3-12 this replaces the Garden of Friends summer camp.
  • Vocational Services changes its' Summer Work Program to offer a summer experience for persons ages 13-21, known as STEP (Summer Transitional Experience Program)
  • Based on the results of the research conducted over the previous 4 years, Community Living Welland Pelham adopts a person centred approach to support services, called Lifestyle Planning. this approach includes services and supports that are based on the person’s preference, interests and skillsthe person, and the people who are important in his/her life are involved in the planning process.
  • The CLWP Media Production Committee is formed to produce professional videos that educate and/or celebrate the accomplishments and significant events in people's lives the first major production by members of this group is a 30 minute video on the lives of 3 women who spent part of their lives in institutions the video details each woman's personal recollections on life in institutions.
  • On March 31, 2009 Community Living Welland Pelham celebrates, along with the rest of the Community Living agencies throughout Ontario, the closure of the last Ministry-operated large institution in Ontario. This is a landmark event in the fight for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and their inclusion within their communities.

Inspiring Possibilities 

Community Living provides supports and services to people with Intellectual Disabilities, their families and the community of Welland and Pelham.

Contact Us At Community Living Welland Pelham

535 Sutherland Avenue
Welland, Ontario, L3B 5A4
Tel: 905-735-0081
Fax: 905-735-9431