SHELBURNE, NS - In 1985 the opportunities for people with an intellectual disability to find work or housing were limited. Responding to this community need led to the creation of what would become Shelburne Association Supporting Inclusion (SASI), a not for profit charity that is working together with people with disabilities to improve the quality of their lives.
Today with over 60 participants, 60 staff and homes, apartments and employment centres across the county, SASI is an integral part of the community touching the lives of individuals and families alike.
“We are a person-centered organization, helping participants find work or activities that reflect their needs,” says executive director Heath Spencer. “For some people that means paid work and for others the emphasis is on training or recreation and leisure or skill development. What that means for everyone is a workplace that is safe and meaningful and offers people a place to belong and flourish.”
With success leading to a demand for more capacity and diversity in SASI’s programs it became clear that the only solution was to expand, particularly in the Town of Shelburne.
“With the help of our dedicated volunteer board we began to look for somewhere new to move to, somewhere that would provide space in a modern and accessible setting. Listening to our participants’ dreams was the biggest part of project,” says Trudy Quinlan, SASI’s board chair.
In May 2016, SASI purchased a 10,000-square-foot empty commercial building in Shelburne at 71 King St. and began the process of renovation. With the support of partners that work has been completed and the SASI Works centre stands proudly with SASI’s other employment centers in Lockeport (Beech Street Studios) and Barrington (Mayflower Place).
“The excitement that participants have been feeling can now be shared with our community.” says Quinlan. “Our opening on Feb. 22 (was) the chance for us all to celebrate and rejoice and share successes.”
She says supporting the inclusion of all citizens makes the community stronger.
“Everybody wins when everybody belongs,” Quinlan says.
That certainly seems to be the case. The organization has developed itself to play a significant role in community economic development and was honored to receive recognition through the Excellence in Community Development award in 2015.