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PADDLE program embraces new funding

'Announcements like this change people's lives'
PADDLE member James Nadeau is all smiles during Friday's funding announcement. Photo by Chris Dawson/BayToday.

There was no one protesting outside Vic Fedeli's press event on Friday morning. 

In fact, the longtime Nipissing MPP was welcomed with emotional hugs prior to his important funding announcement supporting PADDLE, short for "Providing Adults with Developmental Disabilities Lifelong Experiences." 

"I have known most of these people at PADDLE for over 20 years," said Fedeli about the not-for-profit program. 

"We are on a first-name basis, there are hugs and it is always emotional when you get here."  

Fedeli says he has been pushing for this provincial support which amounts to $260,000 in one-time operational funding. 

He realizes the program lives off what he calls a "shoestring" budget. 

"It is living day-to-day hoping for the next bit of money to come in," said Fedeli outside the PADDLE headquarters located in a renovated former school off Albert Street in North Bay.  

"I have been working to get that made permanent and literally working with the ministry day by day," he said.  

"The minister sits one seat behind me and there is not a day that goes by that I don't glare at him and say 'is today the day for PADDLE?"  

Megan Johnson, executive director of PADDLE says the program supports 30 members. However, the waiting list to join PADDLE is long.  

"Some of them have been on the wait list for five or more years so that is a huge concern for us," she said. 

"This funding announcement is unbelievable. This is a historic investment in people in our community. The people we support are valuable, they are important, and they deserve to have an inclusive community experience just like you and me." 

Another $35,000 was announced as well. That funding from the NOHFC’s Workforce Development Stream will be used to hire a Community Connector intern that will support people with complex developmental disabilities who want to play a more active and inclusive role in their community.

This spring, Fedeli announced that PADDLE received $200,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Community Resilient Fund to hire a Sustainability Officer and a Transition Coordinator to implement new sustainability and transition plans and support an inclusive program for isolated individuals. 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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