Bringing passion to provide quality services to a vibrant man with diverse abilities

With such varied needs across all of the programs offered through WJS, the ability to be flexible, creative, and thoughtful is what makes the organization’s services so strong.

Marie Stad practices this through the specialized services and support she provides to people of diverse abilities. One person she worked with was a fellow whose intimidating presence and behaviour made it difficult for staff to help him with his hoarding problem. He had a temper and would yell and throw things when people touched his belongings.

“When I first met him, he stood in front of me and said, ‘You can’t make me do anything,’” Marie recalls. “And so I said, ‘I have teenage boys. Bring it on.’”

Initially, this man spent a lot of time in his bed, and Marie wanted to find ways to help him be active and participate in cleaning up his house. “I would just stand by his bedroom door and just talk to him,” she says, “and the first thing I did was I encouraged him to get up and help me with cleaning so that it wasn’t me moving his things.”

She would ask him to move items off the shelf so she could clean it, for example, and these steps helped him start to take pride in cleaning and displaying his belongings. Eventually, he took the initiative to organize things himself.

“I would just compliment him, without being condescending or patronizing,” says Marie. “The sense of ownership, of pride in what he owns. He’d phone me once a while say, ‘hey guess what I did yesterday? I cleaned my house.’ He’d just tell me about the different things he did, whereas previously it was like he just didn’t do any of that stuff.”

She and her team worked with this individual to set up shelving to display his significant Star Wars collection, and his pride grew.

Marie was also able to support him to become more active, lose weight, collaboratively build a better relationship with his parents, and even go on vacation for the first time in over 30 years. Her passion and integrity allowed for this man to receive the high quality services he needed and deserved. Reaching these positive outcomes involved tapping into all the different parts of the service delivery.

“We just built that relationship to let him understand how important he is in this world, encouraging him and making him feel valued,” says Marie. “He actually brings a lot of joy to a lot of people because he’s so friendly.”