A Helping Hand: HCRS Celebrating 40 Years in Pictou County


Ellen Jardine is proud of her home and the life she has created for herself. It’s evident in the way she greets you – the moment she buzzes you in she emerges from her apartment to await your arrival. As you round the corner you can see her standing at the far end of the hall with her hand already outstretched, ready to welcome you personally to her home. She shouts a hello. Not only do you know where you’re going, you feel warmly received. It makes you want to jog down the hall to return the greeting in kind, not wishing to keep your host waiting.

Ellen is so upbeat and positive it’s hard to believe the challenges she’s overcome to be where she is today. She lived with her parents until the age of 29. That was when Ellen, seeking more independence, made the move to Highland Community Residential Services (HCRS).

As a supported living community that works to create belonging, opportunity, and inclusion with people who have an intellectual disability, HCRS meant the chance for Ellen to move out on her own.

“HCRS means having my own place. Living by myself – I like that. I like my staff. I get to have a lot of input,” says Ellen.

Her long-time staff member, Dawn MacDonald confirms that Ellen doesn’t rely on staff for very much, preferring to do the majority of things on her own. As an Independent Living Support (ILS) resident, Ellen receives support Monday through Friday. The rest of the time she takes care of her own needs, attending her appointments, venturing out to take photos of her surroundings, and tending to the apartment she treasures.

She maintains an active life in the community, working at Glen Haven Manor where she takes the residents to their activities and volunteers each week at her church. In her free time, she visits the library where she can check her email, and goes for walks where she pursues her favourite pastime – photography. From her pictures, it’s clear she has an uncanny ability for getting up close to deer and other wildlife.

Ellen has been a member of the HCRS community since 1989 and in talking to her it’s apparent the organization is fulfilling its commitment to celebrating abilities, creating opportunities, and building inclusion in Pictou County.

“I like everything about HCRS. I like the parties and social events and I like the nice people I’ve met,” says Ellen.

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.

Ellen and Dawn invite you to join them for the HCRS 40th Anniversary Reception & Photo Exhibit event taking place at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on November 17, 7 pm.


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