By Maureen McEwan
What’s new at ABLE2? It’s been a busy summer for the local organization that supports people across the disability spectrum, and there are no signs of slowing down for the fall as beloved in-person programs and events resume.
“It was good,” said Heather Lacey, executive director of ABLE2. “We got to see some of the people we serve in person and I think it’s really very [about] making everyone feel comfortable – making sure we stay safe, of course -[and] really reconnect with people.
Starting in the summer, ABLE2 celebrated Disability Pride Month and members of its LGBTQ+ community online throughout July.
“We love to celebrate Pride,” Lacey said. “Obviously, we are an organization that welcomes diversity and includes everyone, so it’s very important for us to recognize that through our social media.”
“We always want to make sure that we recognize all of these special celebrations…Certainly we work with people who are part of this community, and we also serve the people of this community, and we want to make sure that they know that they are valued and we welcome them into our family.
In August, the organization again organizes its annual picnic. Before the pandemic, the rally drew 50 to more than 100 people, but it was suspended.
“Our annual picnic is coming up, which we’ve been really looking forward to because it’s been postponed for the past few years, so people are very excited to get together.”
The picnic takes place at Trolley Station in Britannia Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 27. Typically, the event includes a DJ and dancing, games and food, Lacey said.
“Everyone is having a great time and it’s a great way to end the summer,” she said.
The fall will continue with an active list of events.
On September 10, the fifth annual Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Walk will take place. Attendees will start at York Street Plaza and travel to City Hall where they plan to hold a flag raising at Marion Dewar Plaza, Lacey said.
And later in the month, ABLE2 will host an Impacting Lives Together event on September 28.
“We are planning an Impacting Lives Together event, which is a way to celebrate our volunteers and the people who have interacted with us and given us their time and money,” Lacey said.
And even though the weather is still wet, the organization is starting to plan their Christmas party in December because the team is excited to be back.
ABLE2 is “a small but mighty charity with a big purpose,” according to the organization’s website, and it’s Ottawa’s only organization “helping people of all ages across the spectrum of disability and their families to live their lives as valued members of our city.”
In Ottawa, there are more than 161,000 people with disabilities, and three-quarters of that population live with more than one disability and about one-third of those people are over the age of 65, according to the organization.
Through its programs, such as the Buddy Program, Build Community, Person Directed Planning and Facilitation (PDPF), Fetal Alcohol Resource Program (FARP), Family Support and others, ABLE2 works daily with hundreds of people in the city. In the matchmaking program alone, Lacey said more than 200 people are matched with volunteers.
The charity was founded in 1974, but has changed its name in recent years.
“We first walked out of the gate as ‘Citizen Advocacy’ and then in 2020 we changed our name to ‘ABLE2’ in recognition of the growth of the organization,” Lacey said. “And we really wanted to focus on people’s abilities; we really want to walk with people with disabilities, we don’t want to speak for them.
“It’s about having people talk to you about what they want for their lives, [what] their quality of life resembles,” she added.
As executive director, Lacey marks her fourth year in the role in August, and these days the small but mighty charity has around 23 staff members making up the team.
“We have great staff here. You couldn’t ask for better staff, honestly, and we also have a great board who are very supportive of us,” said Lacey. “All this is a good recipe for providing good services to the community.
Community members can support ABLE2 in many ways, Lacey said: through volunteering, attending or supporting events, donations and more. Visit able2.org for the latest information.
This story appeared in the Donations section of the August 2022 edition of the Kitchissippi Times.