At St.Amant we’ve heard from people we support and their families for a long time that a critical piece of quality of life is missing for people with developmental disabilities and that is friendship and unpaid relationships. Those relationships are important for so many reasons: to ease loneliness, to add quality to life, to discover reciprocity, to know that someone knows you and has your back, to expand your network, etc. For people with disabilities, it’s also important to have people in your life who know you well enough that they can help advocate for what you need in case your family is no longer able.
Tracy Laluk, Manager, Volunteer Services was on CBC's Information Radio this week to discuss the program.
"A lot of individuals experience loneliness and we might not even realize that individuals are lonely - thinking that they're around people all day. It doesn't matter where you live, there's loneliness."
Our volunteer services department has started a PALS Program to help address this issue. They are matching volunteers who are looking for a friend, with people supported by St.Amant who are also looking for a friend. They compile information about both parties to see what kinds of interests they have and matching people together.
"Just like blind dating, it doesn't work for everyone. It doesn't mean we'll stop looking for that perfect match, it just makes us want to work even harder. Not only for the individual that's looking for a match but the volunteer looking for the match, as well."
So far the program has been very successful with 60 matches and 6 more people on a waitlist. If you're interested in joining the PALS Program, visit stamant.ca/volunteering/apply. Watch a short testimonial video below from some of the first volunteers in the PALS Program.