Elfrieda Kitchen is enjoying her retirement. She has the time and means to visit her children and grandchildren who live up north.
She also has a passion for travelling and has visited several countries around the world, most recently Nepal and India.
Kitchen is also a faithful supporter of Communitas Supportive Care Society in Abbotsford.
She has a very personal connection to the organization: her brother, Gary, received support through Communitas for much of his adult life.
Gary was born with Down syndrome at a time when children with disabilities were not accepted in society.
Kitchen has a vivid memory of her parents discussing the idea of having Gary go and live at Woodlands, an institution in New Westminster that housed people living with developmental disabilities.
“I remember us driving there and sitting, with Gary on my mom’s lap and watching as a line of children walked past us, their hands all tied together,” Kitchen recalls. “I remember my mother crying. We didn’t leave Gary there.”
Instead, her brother grew up in the family home and although it was good that he did not have to grow up in an institution, it was taxing on the family.
When her parents were finally able to accept that he needed care that they could no longer offer, Gary came to live in a Communitas residence where he really blossomed.
“It was the best thing for Gary,” Kitchen says. “This is where his life really started. He was able to have his own, adult life. Communitas was really good for him.”
Gary passed away in 2010 but his good experience has led Kitchen to continue to support Communitas. Last fall, she became a monthly donor.
Many of the services that Communitas offers receive limited government funding, and donations help provide the organization with a stable base of support.
“Sustained, regular giving allows us as a service provider to be consistent in the support we offer,” says Alan Cavin, the director of resource development for Communitas. “Friends like Elfrieda, who commit to a monthly donation, make all the difference. It’s a wonderful way to honour the memory of her brother Gary.”
Kitchen also appreciates the way this consistency works for her. She has set a certain amount to donate each month and she doesn’t have to worry about it.
“It’s nice not to have to think about it,” she says. “It just makes it so easy.”
Visit CommunitasCare.com/donate to learn more about how becoming a monthly donor.