Thriving in the Kinsmen community

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Thriving in the Kinsmen community
Primary support workers Lisa D'Alessio and Tim Hawn stand alongside Lino Distefano (centre) at the Kinsmen Community Residence (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – January is Developmental Service workers month. Since 1979, the Kinsmen Community Residence in Cornwall has given a helping hand and enabling their members to live active, independent and productive lives.

“The clients we serve might struggle because they might lose focus on paying bills, eating properly, or medical appointments. That’s where we help,” said Tim Hawn, one of two full-time primary support staff workers at the Kinsmen Community Residence.

Located at 176 Marguerite de Youville, the Kinsmen Community Residence consists of six townhomes, each with two residents per home. The organization consists of three full-time employees and two part-time. Lisa D’Alessio is the second full-time primary support staff member at the Kinsmen Community Residence and she estimates that over its 40 year existence, that it has helped hundreds of people live better lives.

“Our motto is ‘Discover your Potential’,” she said. “Our service is flexible. We recognize what people need help with and what we don’t need help with.”

In addition to the 12 on-site residents that they support on a daily basis, there are also people who live in the greater Cornwall community that Kinsmen Community Residence also assists.

One of the on-site residents is Lino Distefano. Thanks to the support of Kinsmen Community Residence, Distefano found a job at Tim Horton’s and has been an employee there for over 30 years.

“I like the people I work with,” Distefano said. He explained that he helps with maintenance, cleaning the parking lot, and occasionally baking cookies.

“He’s proven he has many skills and can handle the work,” said Hawn.

Distefano says that Kinsmen Community Residence helps him with things like banking and that he also likes the social connections he’s made.

Staff at Kinsmen Community Residence hold a supper for three residence a week and Distefano himself organizes a weekly potluck with other residents.

“Some people are isolated and it helps them connect with people they wouldn’t always meet,” said Hawn.

“We often hear in in-take meetings from a son or daughter that what they want is friends,” added D’Alessio.

Joh Ann Couture, the Executive Director of Kinsmen Community Residence says that it is thanks to workers like Hawn and D’Alessio that organizations like their’s are able to achieve what they do for their clients.

“It is because of these workers that these success stories are possible,” she said.

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