For Maggie Julien, if it wasn't for ICAN, she wouldn't be able to live as independent a life as she currently does.
The 27-year-old has been a client at ICAN since 2004.
In 2009, she was able to move into the housing complex at ICAN, living in a four-bedroom apartment with roommates, but then moved into ICAN's new building eight years ago, where she has an apartment all to herself.
“Staff help me with personal care, and if I need help with groceries or anything, I'm able to book them for that,” Julien said.
She also attends physiotherapy appointments at ICAN twice a week, which has helped her to the point that, two years ago, she started walking.
“If it wasn't for ICAN, I'd either still be living at home, or in long-term care, and I don't belong there,” she said. “It gives me the independence without having to need my parents to help me out.”
She was one of the many clients celebrating ICAN's 40th anniversary on Friday.
Marie Leon, chief executive officer, said every year, ICAN hosts its Independence Day, but this year, the celebration was bigger and better because of the milestone anniversary.
“Forty years is a long time to be providing service, and we're so very proud of this organization, and how much it has grown and expanded over that time,” Leon said.
Originally, the mandate was to provide support to adults with physical disabilities, but it has expanded to include services in the community for seniors, as well, she said.
Last year, ICAN served about 350 clients.
“Our clients who have physical disabilities stay with us for life, and we have clients who have been with us for more than 35 years,” Leon said.
Currently, ICAN has about 150 staff members. Most are independent living assistants, or front line staff whose job it is to provide help in the day-to-day lives of our clients, she said.
The Personal Support Worker shortage has certainly had an impact on ICAN, as it has on all other agencies of the sort, said Leon, but its approach of making it a fun place to work goes a long way in helping to fill any voids in the number of employees.
“Our staff are passionate about their jobs. We have staff who have been with us for more than 30 years,” she said.
That fun atmosphere couldn't have been more evident than on Friday during the annual Independence Day celebration, where clients and their families were invited to participate in a number of games and other activities.
For Julien, Friday's festivities were a chance to reminisce with some friends.
“It brings everyone together, and lets me see people I don't get to see very often,” she said.