Doreen Lee has been described as a social butterfly. One of Doreen’s favourite things to do is to socialize with friends and family. She never misses an opportunity to be out and about; her laugh and smile immediately draw people to her.
Seeing how naturally she takes to new situations, it’s hard to imagine that life wasn’t always like this for Doreen, but when she first joined the HCRS assisted living community a decade ago she was a very different person.
“For the most part Doreen led a sedentary life,” says her longtime support staff Gerri Lynn White of HCRS. “She was struggling with diabetes, had few friends and social supports, and was relying on family for her daily needs.”
With baby steps and a lot of hard work, Doreen started to change her lifestyle, making healthier choices, and expanding her social connections. At HCRS, she had peers to walk with, eat healthy meals, and share cheat days. She learned to be a good roommate and good friend. With every success, her confidence grew. She became interested in getting out more, connecting with others, and planning to attend her first dance.
Pictured are Gerri Lynn and Doreen
As an organization committed to ensuring inclusion in community life for persons living with intellectual disability, HCRS was there to support Doreen every step of the way. But, Gerri Lynn says, the success is all hers. “Doreen’s success is without a doubt due to her positive attitude, her zest for life, and willingness to try new experiences.”
Today Doreen no longer needs a cane and has gone from a size 5X to 14. Her life is a busy schedule of social, recreational, work, volunteer, and family activities. “I like to be out in the community,” says Doreen.
At 69, she shows no signs of slowing down. She keeps fit at the YMCA and by going for walks on the Samson Trail. She works at Summer Street’s New Beginnings, helping to sort donations for the store, and has volunteered at Kids First as a way to honour her best friend Barb, who passed away last year.
With new experiences, supports, and friendships, Doreen’s life journey is very much like that of a butterfly that has recently emerged into the world. Her friendship is a gift to everyone around her and it seems the feeling is mutual. “It is a nice place that helps people. It’s safe.”
HCRS is celebrating 40 years of supporting individuals with intellectual disability or mental health challenges to live independently in community. The organization supports 90 persons through its residential services, 180 persons through its respite and day programs, and 200 staff who provide personalized supports promoting wellness, personal dignity, and human rights.
To mark this milestone, they will be hosting a special reception at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on November 17 at 7 pm, which will feature a photo essay exhibit called “A Day in the Life of HCRS”. The community is invited to come hear some of the stories that are the hallmark of the kinder, more joyful community HCRS is creating. Click here to learn more.
Doreen is pictured with her roommates Barbie and Brittany, holding a picture of their former roommate Barb Bouchie, who passed away last year. Doreen and Barb became best friends and for six years they enjoyed a special kindership. Doreen gave Barb that extra love and support that only a dear friend can give. “She was a nice person, nice smile, I miss her.” After Barb’s passing Doreen and her roommates decided to honour her whenever they could.