I grew up in Armstrong, BC and lived with my mom on our farm until I was 61 years old. My mom always told me that I could do things and expected a lot from my abilities. I knew that one day, I wanted to have my own place and live independently, but many people told me it wasn’t possible because of my Cerebral Palsy and that I wouldn’t have enough money. However, I knew I could eventually live on my own especially considering that I cared for my mom as she got older and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I was able to look after my mom so that she could remain in our home until her passing.
After my mom passed away, I had to move away from my community in a home that wasn’t the right fit for me. Because I was one of the founding members of a self-advocacy group in Armstrong, I learned the importance of speaking up for myself and I advocated for what I wanted which was my own place!
With the help of some friends and support workers, I started up my own personal support network called “Maggie’s Hugs”. My network helped me talk with Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) about what I wanted my home and community to look like. I decided I wanted to find a place in the hub of Vernon that was accessible for my scooter and close to the activities and places in this community that were important to me. I found this at the Orchard Valley Retirement Residence where I then lived for the next 10 years.
During my time there, I accessed my community independently and became involved with the Red Hat Society, Schubert Seniors’ Centre, Independent Living Vernon (where I continue to serve on their Board of Directors). I volunteered for Orchard Valley where I delivered mail to the residents and took responsibility for ensuring that they received signed cards for birthdays and other occasions. I was actively involved with their resident council and participated in planning for activities and special events. In 2013, I was awarded the Resident of the Year Award.
In 2020, I decided to move to the Hamlets in Vernon where I live on the 6th floor with an amazing view overlooking Polson Park and the Coldstream Valley beyond. I continue to participate actively in my community by serving on the CLBC North Okanagan Shuswap Community Council, the Okanagan Accessibility Committee, Independent Living Vernon, and as a board member for PLAN Okanagan.
I have an amazing support network of good friends, family and community inclusion workers, who ensure that I remain connected and active in my community as I get older. I enjoy shopping, going to the theatre and movies, restaurants, scenic drives, live music venues and other special events, and hosting visitors in my own home.