Genevieve Chandler has a developmental disability.
“With my disability, I’m actually a hybrid,” the bubbly 32-year-old explains. “I’m part aspy (Asperger’s) and part ordinary, meaning I am autistic.”
For the last six years, Lifetime Networks, which provides supports to people with developmental disabilities and their families, has helped foster Genevieve’s love of art and theatre.
“I love singing and acting out and just showing the audience what you can do,” Genevieve says.
Genevieve is one of the lead actors in their theatre troupe and Lifetime Neworks helped connect her with a job teaching children’s art classes.
“I’m an artist and I teach kids and special needs some arts and crafts,” says Genevieve.
It’s part of the non-profit’s ‘LIFE-based’ program, focused on learning, inclusion, friendship and employment.
“It meets people where they are,” says Lifetime Networks executive director Wendy-Sue Andrew. “It’s person-centred so it’s entirely focused on what the person would like to do in terms of employment, friendships, learning and inclusion. It’s not a pre-set, pre-packaged program and it’s certainly not Monday to Friday 9 to 3.”
It’s one of the many programs Lifetime offers and at the core of everything they do is friendship.
“The friendships and relationships is just such a large focus for us,” explains Wendy-Sue. “If someone doesn’t have friends, there’s a lot of isolation and loneliness and that’s a very sad way to live.”
Lifetime helps hundreds of people but due to COVID, donations are down.
Like many charities and non-profits, they haven’t been able to hold their big fundraising gala or other events, so they’re hoping people will be generous on Giving Tuesday.
“Donations allow us to supply scholarships and bursaries to people who are looking for services,” Wendy-Sue says. “Not everybody receives funding, not everyone can afford to pay for supports and many people need enhanced supports.”
Wendy-Sue’s worked at Lifetime for more than 20 years and she knows first-hand how important it is to build connection and community.
“I’m very privileged to have three children and one of my children has a development disability,” she says. “I see the differences in opportunities and that’s a big driving force for me at Lifetime and for the rest of Lifetime team.”
For Genevieve and all the people Lifetime helps, those friendships and opportunities are life-changing.
“Thank you for being their for me — you’re like my guardian angles, every single one of you.”
For a look at other charities you can support on Giving Tuesday, click on this link.