Community Living turning 60

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Union Gas’ Paul Rietdyk, vice president; Kevin Williamson and Lavern Hanley showcase the Joyce M. Carr Champion Award the company earned at Friday’s launch of Community Living Month. For the past 25 years, Williamson, a Community Living member, has worked at Union Gas.
Union Gas’ Paul Rietdyk, vice president; Kevin Williamson and Lavern Hanley showcase the Joyce M. Carr Champion Award the company earned at Friday’s launch of Community Living Month. For the past 25 years, Williamson, a Community Living member, has worked at Union Gas.

Community Living Chatham-Kent is showing no signs of slowing down, even though it is celebrating its 60th birthday.

Kicking off Community Month with a flag raising and a barbecue outside the Civic Centre Friday, the organization showcased how it has helped people over the years.

A key Community Living member, Kevin Williamson, was all smiles as he was the central figure in the Joyce M. Carr Champion Award. The award goes to a business that’s made a difference in the community by hiring a person who has a disability, and encourages others to do the same.

A quarter of a century ago, Union Gas brought Williamson into 50 Keil Dr. to work in the engineering department. The Community Living member has been there ever since.

His goal: To work there another 25 years, health permitting.

Paul Rietdyk, vice president at Union Gas, said Williamson is a great employee.

“We’re deeply honoured to be acknowledged … but the award is just as much recognizing Kevin for his 25 years of hard work,” Rietdyk said. “He is an example of the value that diversity can bring.”

Ron Coristine, executive director of Community Living Chatham-Kent, praised Union Gas and Williamson.

“Kevin is unbelievable. He’s one of the people who laid the foundation for others to venture out and work at real jobs for real money,” he said. “Union Gas is a leader of leaders.”

Coristine said a great deal of change has occurred over the life of Community Living Chatham-Kent. People with a disability are looked at much differently.

“A disability is nothing more than a characteristic. A person shouldn’t be defined by it,” he said. “They are valuable and make contributions to the community.”

Community Living also handed out the Rob McLandress Make a Dream Come True Awards Friday.

Kevin and Carol Laurie have $1,000 to put towards a belated honeymoon to Niagara Falls, while Michael Pritchard received a like amount for a trip to England.

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