Community. Dignity. Belonging.
Who we are: Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region (EAFWR) was founded in 1981 by parents of children with developmental disabilities, as a way to build friendship and nurture community in Waterloo Region. As a local not-for-profit who serves nearly 2,000 adults and children with developmental and physical disabilities, EAFWR is committed to dignity, inclusion and belonging for all.
Bringing people together and building a community that is supportive of all of its citizens is at the core of community development. Whether it’s engaging in a gathering, an event or bringing a group of people together that ordinarily wouldn’t connect, we want to find a way to impact those involved, creating some form of lasting change.
Lasting change – no small feat, and often immeasurable and difficult to see. Our approach has been to find ways for people to engage with our work in ways that levels the playing field. Putting the people we serve, people with disabilities, as the planners and organizers. Sponsors are encouraged to come out and participate. Participants become the evaluators. Our hope is that the people involved will see themselves standing alongside all the others involved and discover that respect and esteem flows horizontally, from organizer to participant. The playing field is equal. So brings us to a single afternoon: our community dodgeball tournament, a single event in a series of more than fifteen gatherings we host each year. Neighbours throwing a soft(ish) ball at one another and sharing a pizza together following the game play. A simple afternoon that is filled with fun and comradery, organized by the very people we serve. However, eight months later, when a community association connects with Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region wanting to know how our tournament went, and whether we wanted to share our learnings and ideas, we are presented with an opportunity.
This is the shining moment when we redirect questions from the community association to the committee that built the event and brought it to fruition; people who are served by Extend-A-Family Waterloo. It is that committee that now collaborates with the community association. While the initial tournament was an ordinary recreational sporting event, what resulted was the positioning of a person, who normally might not be thought of or recognized as a contributing member, as a skilled and knowledgeable person with much to contribute. What resulted is a citizen assuming their rightful place.
- $500 enables a young person with a disability the opportunity to go on a summer vacation with peers for one week
- $200 provides a much-needed weekend break for a family in crisis
- $100 would pay for two staff people/weekly to facilitate our OPEN SPACE program – an inclusive, social program that brings people together and helps build a stronger community
- $50 will pay for a day at Working Adults Learning Empowering Skills (W.A.L.E.S.)
While many programs offered by Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region are partially funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth, and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Community Development team relies solely on the generosity of our community partners.
To be a champion for belonging you can show your support for Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region with a financial donation through our Canada Helps portal, directly to our Moore Avenue office, or by calling 519-741-0190 ext. 302.
You can also donate your time. Volunteers are always needed to provide respite and community mentorship, and participate in awareness opportunities.