Community Living Mattawa was founded in 1969 when a group of local residents, led by Isabelle and Bob Butler established the Mattawa chapter of the Mattawa and District Association for the Mentally Retarded. The Association was incorporated by Letters Patent in February 1976.
Around the time that the Association was incorporated, the original group of concerned local residents were working very hard to open the doors of the Adult Occupational Center. This became a reality in March of 1978 and provided a workshop-type atmosphere for pre-vocational training and skills development classes for adults with a developmental disability. The Center was funded as a Pre-Vocational Life Skills Program under the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Over the years as the clients’ and staffs’ needs have changed and so has the focus of the Program. Various activities have included woodworking, cooking, crafts, and baking to name a few. The overall intent was to increase the level of independence, confidence and abilities of each person attending the Program.
Following the lead of our national and provincial bodies, the process began in March 1988 to change the name of the Association to:
Mattawa & District Association for Community Living
The primary intent of this move was to remove the label from people who have a developmental disability. In addition, it reflects the renewed commitment towards the closure of institutions and the relocation of residents to community-based homes.
Planning began in June of 1988 to expand the services provided by our Association. Construction began in October of that same year on the Bissett Street Residence, and in March 1989, six young adults moved into their new home. The Residence is a fully accessible home, providing supports 24 hours per day to people with developmental disabilities who have varying support needs.
As a result of putting the Residence in place, it also became necessary to expand the size and the services of the Life Skills Program, providing these individuals with a place to go during the day. An Adult Developmental component was added to the Life Skills Program.
In 1990, plans got underway to purchase and expand the Life Skills building on 10th Street. Complete renovations were done to the existing building and a 30’ x 64’ addition was added. The new facility provides program space for 24 clients, as well as the Administrative offices of the Association.
A second home on Brydges Street was purchased and renovated to accommodate four new residents, relocating from the Muskoka Center, as part of the Government’s multi-year effort to close institutions in the Province.
The emphasis of the Life Skills Program was restructured in 1993 to include a Community Alternatives component. The intent was to provide vocational, recreational and/or volunteer experiences for adults with a developmental disability. These activities are initiated by the interests of the participants and supported by the employees.
In September 2004, the Association revised its’ name to:
Community Living Mattawa
In November 2005, the Association’s proposal for a Foundations Program was approved and we began offering transitional supports to young adults leaving the school system. A partnership was formed with the Mattawa Youth Center and office space was rented to start the program. The Foundations Program works with the youth and their families to develop Transition Plans that will bridge them from school to community life, including employment supports and educational opportunities of their choice. In June 2009, the Board of Directors purchased the old ‘Sears’ building on Valois Drive from which to deliver the transition supports.
The Association has unofficially offered Supported Independent Living (SIL) services to individuals living in their own homes or apartments since 1996. In April 2006, Community Living Mattawa received funding dedicated for three (3) SIL spaces, and in the 2007-08 fiscal year the Life Skills funding was re-aligned to offer SIL supports to up to eight (8) people. In 2010-2011, all after (program) hours supports provided were transferred to the SIL budget.
In 2010, MCSS provided new base funding to begin providing Respite Coordination services for families with children with developmental disabilities. These supports are delivered, one day per week, with the Tenth Street property as its home base.
Also in 2010, Community Living Mattawa became the funding broker for Adult and Children’s Case Resolution for the southern part of the North East Region. Case Resolution funding provides short-term funding support to Adult and Children’s agencies across the region. Community Living Mattawa forwards the funding upon approval from the Case Resolution selection committees to the approved agency.
In 2011, MCSS started to flow funding directly to Community Living Mattawa for children’s respite. Seven families currently access funding through Community Living Mattawa to pay a worker to provide respite for their child.
In 2011, Executive Director Laura Pierce retired after 25 years. David Spencer was hired as the new Executive Director.
In 2012, the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan was completed. The apartment above the Foundations program was renovated and an individual from the Association’s Supported Independent Living program moved into the apartment.
In 2013, the Life Skills Program changed its name to Community Participation Supports and combined with the Foundations Program under one Ministry Funding Code.
Also in 2013, the Ministry moved the Children’s Case Resolution to another organization and expanded Community Living Mattawa’s responsibilities related to Adult Case Resolution. Community Living Mattawa now coordinates Adult Case Resolution for the entire Northeast Region. In 2014, this committee changed its name to the Regional Urgent Response Committee.
In 2014, the Community Participation Supports program and the Supported Independent Living program were re-structured, which resulted in SIL separating from the Community Participation Supports program and becoming its own independent program.
Also in 2014, individualized funding started at Community Living Mattawa with four people with developmental disabilities receiving their own individual funding. This funding was called Passport funding and was to be used for community participation supports and caregiver respite. Community Living Mattawa launched its Passport Program to support people who receive their own funding.
In 2019, the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan was completed. In 2019, the Association also celebrated its 50th Anniversary of supporting people with developmental disabilities in the Town of Mattawa and the surrounding communities.
Overall, Community Living Mattawa offers the following services and supports the following number of people:
- 24-hour group living services;
- Supported-Independent Living supports;
- Community Outreach supports;
- Transitions supports;
- Children’s respite coordination;
- Children’s respite funding to allow families to pay for their respite workers;
- Individualized funded support through the Passport program; and
- Acts as the administrative agency for the North Region’s Urgent Response Committees that covers the Districts of Parry Sound, Muskoka, Nipissing, Cochrane, Temiskaming, Sudbury, Manitoulin, Algoma, Thunder Bay, Kenora, and Rainy River.