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Respite – A Contractors Perspective

December 9, 2015

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Rick Armstrong has been a respite contractor since 2003. It started with a few young men that used the Community Living Parry Sound (CLPS) Transitional Youth Service and has blossomed into somewhat of a career for him.  “It has been amazing to work with these young men and see them grow and succeed in life”, says Rick.

Rick is a chef by trade, which comes in handy when teaching young people how to cook, clean, budget and grocery shop. For many years he used the 8 McNaughton Street building at CLPS to offer guy’s weekends, where up to four young men would attend for the weekend and learn the skills they would need to live in their own apartments. Rick feels gratified now whenever he sees these young men in the community because he knows that he was a part of helping them to achieve their goals in life.

Rick has supported people of all ages and different levels of ability. He has been a part of preparing for and attending Special Olympics events, teaching street safety, providing sexuality education, teaching personal hygiene, obtaining employment, obtaining a drivers licence, attending college courses and job coaching. The opportunities are limitless in his view. He loves to be creative about how to support each person in their success.

Aside from the success of the people he supports through respite, Rick also has gained knowledge of different disabilities, has participated in college courses, taken trips to various places and most of all built strong and trusting relationships. He works very closely with families of the people he does respite with. As a team they set the goals and evaluate successes together. “I have built many very strong bonds with people over the years”, Rick states. “It’s really worth the time and it is very rewarding. They become like your extended family.” One family even moved from the area but brings their son back to Parry Sound for respite services because of the bond they built with Rick.

Over the years Rick has worked with approximately fifteen people. He now works about twenty-five hours each week with four to five different people. When asked what the greatest challenge of being a respite contractor is he replies, “there really aren’t many issues. I just need to be easy going, flexible and have fun. Any time I need support I know that I can go to Community Living Parry Sound to get it.”

Respite services are very rewarding for everyone involved. Rick plans to continue being a respite contractor because of the reward factor. “Watching people grow and succeed and knowing that you were a part of that is a feeling that you can’t replace,” he proudly muses.

If you think becoming a respite contractor would be a rewarding position for you, call Kathy Pastoor at Community Living Parry Sound (705)746-9330, ext. 238, and she will help you get started.

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