99 Northern Avenue, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6B 4H5
Phone: 705-253-1700     Toll Free: 1-800-448-8097

Bright Spots


This page on our website is dedicated to the celebration of "BRIGHT SPOTS" in the lives of children, youth and families we support.  If you have a story you would like to share, please contact a member of the Children's Services team.  Enjoy!

Thursday January 25, 2018-Submitted by Lehia Tomei, Adult and Family Support Worker and Sandra Imbeau, Services Manager

“Setting a Goal to Reach a Dream - Ashtin decided that one of the goals in his Individual Support Plan (ISP) for 2018 was that he was going to get his Driver’s License.  Through planning he worked out the steps that he would need to take in order to achieve this. With the support of his family & Mike as well as Passport Funding, Ashtin has been working hard towards his goal.  Ashtin was very excited and proud to share with us that he had just passed the written test for his G1.  He has now registered for the Young Drivers Course next month and is looking forward to getting one more step closer to his goal.  Congratulations Ashtin!  We’re very proud of you!”



Friday April 21, 2017-Submitted by Heather Hicks, Director of Community, Family and Children's Services


Two members of the Children's Services Team recently celebrated 30 years of service with Community Living Algoma.  We are all so very fortunate to share in their journeys with the organization.  Congratulations Karen Frayn and Judy Duffy!



Wednesday March 1, 2017-Submitted by Rhonda Miskiw, Child and Family Support Worker 


From Passenger to Driver-Erica's Story

Erica was a very quiet, shy little girl who attended the communication class at Kewadin Public School. Apart from going to school, Erica rarely did anything without the presence of her mom or her dad. The words responsibility and independence were not in her vocabulary. She expressed that she was going to stay with her parents forever. She did not need to go to school because she didn’t need to work. Her parents would take care of her forever.


After much preparation and planning Erica attended the DARE Program at White Pines School. The beginning of Erica’s first year in High School came with some challenges. Feeling very overwhelmed, Erica reluctantly attended school but needed her mom to drive her each day. Erica wanted her mom to remain at school with her and if she didn’t, she called home several times a day just to check in. As Erica became more and more comfortable, she began making new friends (some good, some not so good), challenging herself to take different classes and participate in activities without her parents present. In the summer months, Erica spent time with a peer mentor where she gained much confidence and experience, volunteering, learning and navigating city transit, building independence, developing job readiness skills and taking on more responsibilities at home.


In the spring of her grade 11 year, Erica began working at Canadian Tire in the Garden Center. This job placement was intended to last only 6-8 weeks. During this time and with come coaching and support, Erica’s confidence and self-determination exploded. At the end of the program Erica was offered a part time job at Canadian Tire. Erica has since graduated from high school and although her parents encouraged her to remain in school, Erica decided she wanted to work more and be done with school. Erica continues to work 4-5 days per week, she gets herself to and from work independently and has purchased her own computer and phone. She is currently saving her money as she has shared with me that she is hoping to get her driver’s license this summer and maybe buy herself a car.



College Goals-James' Story

James was placed in supported learning classes since a very young age. When James graduated from elementary school, he attended the ILS program at St. Mary’s College. Through his elementary years, James was a very quiet, shy and reserved young guy. He was very easy going and got along with everyone.


After the completion of the first term in high school, James indicated to his mom and his teacher that he did not want to be in his current program and wanted to take mainstream classes. James stated that he wanted to graduate and go to college. Despite recommendations from the teachers, James and his family pushed to make this happen.


In the Spring term of his first year, James registered in the mainstream program and started on his path to earning a grade 12 diploma. James is now in his second year at St. Mary’s College, has earned 4 mandatory credits and although school work is challenging at times, James is determined he is going to graduate. James is currently working on a resume and is hoping to gain employment this summer.


Thursday February 16, 2017-Submitted by Judy Duffy, Child and Family Support Worker


Selena is a 13 year old girl with a passion for singing.  She recently auditioned for the Glee Club at White Pines and was successful in becoming a member of the club.  The video below (shared by her mom Gayle) depicts her rehearsal before the audition.  Congratulations Selena-we are very proud of you!


Friday January 27, 2017-Submitted by Kay Brennan, Child and Family Support Worker (Elliot Lake)


Volunteering to Make a Difference-Barry is a young man aged 16 who has a real passion for cats. Together we started to visit Elliot Lake's Society for Animals in Distress. Over time, Barry got to know the staff there and others who volunteer their time in the cat rooms. The staff approached us and asked if Barry would like to be a volunteer helping replace the bedding and water for the cats and groom them. Barry agreed and since December 2016 he has been doing an awesome job!

He is very well known there and has made some great community connections. Also, he is doing a great job interacting with the cats so that they become used to different people which will help in their possible adoption out to homes!



Thursday January 19, 2017-Submitted by Judy Barrette, Case Manager (Hornepayne)


Sabrina celebrated her 18th birthday on January 19th.  Her mother had received information, through her network, that one young lady, with a similar diagnosis, had been granted a "wish". We researched different Wish Foundations available to Sabrina and decided to apply to the Children`s Wish Foundation, as it appeared to be best suited for her wish.  We used to have access to a pool in town, but it closed 6 years ago. There does not appear to be any chance that our community will ever again have this kind of facility. The pool was good for Sabrina and she used it weekly. The warm water helps to maintain her mobility and circulation. Sabrina is all grown up now, and the bathtub at home no longer can be used as a small pool for her.   This is why her wish was to have a large enough tub to be able to enjoy the relaxation and benefits of water. To our delight, Sabrina was granted her wish and she received funding to purchase a hot tub.  This will make such a difference for her and she will continue to benefit and enjoy it for years to come!




Saturday January 14, 2017-Submitted by Heather Hicks, Director of Community, Family and Children's Services


On Saturday January 14th, CLA was invited to participate as an exhibitor at Algoma Family Services' Winter Wonderland Public Skate.  This free public event provided an opportunity for families in attendance to learn more about services available in the community.  A special thank you to members of CLA's Children's Services Team for representing the organization at this event!



Friday December 23, 2016-Submitted by Heather Hicks, Director of Community, Family and Children's Services


On Tuesday December 20, 2016, members of CLA's Community Supports and Children's Services teams had the privilege of assisting in the packing of fresh food boxes for Christmas Cheer.  Thousands of volunteer hours were dedicated to ensuring that Christmas was a little merrier for almost 1800 families and individuals in Sault Ste. Marie.  It was a very humbling experience for all involved from CLA.  We are very blessed to live in such a giving community!







Friday December 2, 2016-Submitted by Alicia and  Kay Brennan, Child and Family Support Worker (Elliot Lake)


Alicia is a talented 17 year old youth who attends Villa Francaise de Jeunes high school in Elliot Lake.

She recently won, (last year when in grade 11), an award for a short story she wrote entitled Brian Green the Biologist. The contest was with The Sudden Insight Publishing Anthology Short Story Contest.

Alicia is very interested in science and her story is about the invention of a machine that manipulates molecules of air to create food that would be acceptable for human consumption. Alicia also believes that all living things are very special, so her food-making machine produces foods that does not harm animals or plants. Her hope in writing this story is to inspire all people to learn more about science and to think creatively about ways to combat the global issue of food shortage and the humane treatment of all living things.




Friday November 25, 2016-Submitted by Jasmine and  Judy Duffy, Child and Family Support Worker




A student of the month is chosen based on qualities such as character, leadership and citizenship.


Jasmine was the lucky recipient of the October Student of the Month award at Anna McCrea Public School.

In her first few years of school, she has experienced her share of ups and downs but she is a very determined little girl and her hard work has paid off!


Congratulations Jasmine, we are very proud of you!





Friday November 11, 2016-Submitted by  Patti and  Rhonda Miskiw, Child and Family Support Worker


As the mother of a son with Autism, I found it difficult to learn how to be an Autism Mom.  How should I talk, ask, discipline, intervene, guide and cope?  While trial and error was a big part of my learning curve, I had wonderful support from CLA, Children's Rehab Algoma (THRIVE Child Development Centre), and our various doctors, teachers and social workers.  Still, Autism isolated our family somewhat from social functions, team sports and other venues where parents gather to talk.  I felt rather detached.


To share and communicate my family's story and experiences, I started a blog called TribeFun.com.  Blogging has helped me express my feelings about Autism, while sharing tips for other families who are just beginning this journey.  I use humour to convey that Autism may be tough, but it's not fatal.  Some examples of my posts include: What Autism, I'm a Ladies' Man; Schools and Autism: 8-Bit Brains in Round Curriculums; Dear Autism, I'm gonna blow! And other Epic Meltdowns; Alone at School: the Autism Survival Gear Guide; and Devicing my Son: the Evil of Echolalia.  However, I also write about the serious aspects of Autism that just aren't funny, such as: Social Blues and Autism; B is for Bullies, among other B Words; and  Hey Autism, I'm your Sister.  The one truth I hope to communicate in my writing is that Autism is not stagnant; it evolves with a tide of progress and regress.  


As parents of ASD children, we can share our laughter and tears and support each other.  If you are learning to cope with Autism in your family, visit TribeFun.com.  I welcome comments and dialogue on all of my posts.  We are a community of parents who don't have to feel alone.


Patti Renaud





Friday November 4, 2016-Submitted by  Jon and  Susan Browne, Child and Family Support Worker



Hi, I'm Jon and I go to White Pines School. I do my own podcast, The Jonathan Files.


My Dad records, and sometimes my Mom does, and sometimes I do the recording myself, but I am always talking to my Mom or Dad.  We record on one of their phones or on my iPad.


On my podcast, I review movies and restaurants. I also come up with Movie ideas, and I talk about everything I like to do.  I have about 200 people from all over the world who listen to my show.


You can find it at http://broken-area.com/the-jonathan-files/





Friday October 28, 2016-Submitted by Marty Young, Child and Family Transition Support Worker


I have spent a lot of time supporting children through difficult transitions to high school.  A couple of years ago, a child was having a very difficult time and I was in the school almost daily.  During this time I had the pleasure of working with the vice principal of the school developing a support plan for this child as this was his role with students with complex needs.  He was very quiet which made me question whether or not he was a good fit for the team but I was proven wrong. Being new to intense planning, he calmly observed our work.  As our support plan was implemented, he became more engaged with both the front line staff and more importantly, the student.  He became the champion and advocate for the student and was an integral part of her success.  He had daily visits to ensure the staff felt supported and would also visit with the student.  He never lost sight through all the planning, meetings and ups and downs, that she was a young teenage girl who needed some help in order to cope and be successful at school.  This student has become more successful and is enjoying her time at White Pines.

This year this vice principal was promoted to principal and transferred schools.  Here comes the bright spot:

Transferring to a new school as principal, he has changed the culture of that school and has had a positive impact on another student I support who had transitioned from Superior Heights to Central Algoma Secondary School, his new school.  This student was struggling with the transition, however, this new principal used experience and knowledge to help develop a plan to support this student to be successful.  Already, this student has grown tremendously this year.  At a recent transition meeting, this student’s mother was moved to tears of joy.  Not only is he being successful at school, he is transferring his skills to his home, which his mother shared has never happened before.  He is an active member of the school and he is learning academic, vocational and life skills. Most importantly, he is happy.  Now the principal visits this student on a daily basis. 

I am honoured to have been part of the success stories of these students and am thrilled that CLA’s values and visions for all students is becoming a reality.


Friday October 21, 2016-Submitted by Judy Duffy, Child and Family Support Worker


This is Miguel and his Dog Guide North. Miguel is 10 years old and attends Notre Dame Du Sault school here in Sault Ste. Marie. Through the Lions Foundation of Canada, North and Miguel were paired up and it has turned into a beautiful friendship. Because Miguel experiences autism, he often struggles with anxiety , struggles with transitions and new and over stimulating environments. North helps Miguel go to places he found difficult to go to in the past such as the grocery store, the dentist even the library. Most importantly, Miguel is excelling at school because North is right there with him everyday!