Howdy! Welcome to our new weekly newsletter. We're shifting gears now that life is partially returning to normal with some students returning to school today, many local businesses operational again, and small social gatherings among families and social circles beginning to resume. As such, our Stay at Home Series has been discontinued but we heard from many of you about how much you've enjoyed the daily deliveries to your inbox and the helpful information and ideas provided. We're taking the most-loved content from Stay at Home and merging it with news and updates from our organization to keep you informed through this new publication. Enjoy!
Making Connections Through Virtual Support
One silver lining of the upheaval and anxiety caused in our lives over the past six months is the opportunity to try new things and work ‘outside the box’. The COVID-19 pandemic brought undeniable challenges, but also introduced moments of fun and discovery. While we were unable to gather at our resource centres for community participation supports, it was the push we needed to launch virtual support offerings.

For the past twelve weeks, an amazing team of CLEC staff and participants have been gathering to talk, laugh, learn new things, and find different ways of being together while staying apart. One of the things we learned is that this form of connection is flexible, meaningful, and it works. We are excited to continue our virtual support offerings into the future as an ongoing option for engagement.

Registration for our virtual support offerings runs in two-week segments. Registration for Weeks 15 and 16 will be opening on September 18th. To join, visit My Community Hub and register for a free account. Once you have your account, search for Community Living Essex County events. You can also sign up to receive the virtual support calendar by emailing

Some of the most popular activities have been playing Bingo, board games, book clubs, and even tours of local attractions like Charlotte’s Freedom Farm – all from our respective homes. The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. These connections are a way to combine our favourite activities with the comfort of our familiar environments and friendly faces. 

Thank you to those who purchased masks earlier in the pandemic as part of our fundraising campaign. Your contributions and donations have helped almost 50 people stay connected when we couldn’t be together in person. We look forward to having even more people join us moving forward!
Upcoming Virtual Event
We can't wait to see you online at this year's Virtual Ruthven Apple Festival. Every year, this wonderful family-friendly event raises over $45,000 for Community Living Essex County to purchase and maintain accessible vehicles to help people we support get to where they need to go in the community. With no public transit system in most of the county, these transportation services are vital.

Help us to continue the tradition of the festival and to generate the much-needed resources for transportation services by supporting the Virtual Ruthven Apple Festival in your own way, big or small. Purchase a pie, have Apple Fest in a Basket delivered to your doorstep or make a donation.

What exactly is a virtual festival? Well, we've pulled together many festival favourites and we're offering them up online for you to enjoy. Live entertainment, a virtual car show, online vendors, cooking classes, merchandise sales and more! Check out starting Friday, September 11th!
Isolation Amid the Pandemic
COVID-19 Challenges for People with Disabilities and their Families
By Kelly Runnalls, Parent Consultant, Ensemble

The past 5 months have been difficult and life changing for all of us, but ever more so for individuals with disabilities and their families. There have been many issues and challenges that families have faced, but the overarching theme that families are dealing with during this pandemic is isolation. 

One of the most immediate issues family dealt with at the start of the pandemic was the loss of day, in home, employment and respite supports.  These supports are vital for individuals with disabilities to have meaningful social and community connections and employment.  Of course, families understood the necessity of suspending supports due to the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep themselves, their family members, and their support providers safe, but it still was difficult for families. 

As with families who provide support for their family at home, those in supported living arrangements also understood why the restrictions on in-person visits were suspended but it was hard. The introduction of virtual and phone visitations facilitated by support professionals helped individuals and families stay in touch. Families were relieved to see many temporary allowable expenses passed by government in the spring to support individuals and families allowing access to supports like virtual paint classes, bingo and crafts.

The pandemic has also brought about financial stressors for parents and people with intellectual disabilities. In many instances, family caregivers have had to stop working to become the sole support provider for their family member. The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), although a welcome financial support, did not fully replace lost income. Everyone was relieved in late July when a one-time COVID disability payment was passed by the federal government and families were informed in early August that the payment will be received by them in the fall. 

Finally, as schools re-open, families struggle with the uncertainty of their children going back to school, concerned with safety, especially for family members with compromised immune systems. However, despite all the challenges families have faced over the last 5 months of COVID-19, once again we have seen the resiliency of families as they adapt and support their family member(s). As we have weathered the difficult and challenging times of COVID-19, families are encouraged to see that we have come through the initial rough days, the spread of the virus has slowed and restrictions are being eased. As with many, COVID-19 has permanently changed things for families of people with disabilities and their loved ones, and we will all continue to adapt to this new reality. We're in this together.

You can reach Ensemble by emailing or visit their website at
CLEC Members Event
Interested in taking part in this event but not a member? Click here to learn more about Community Living Essex County membership.
Apple Picking - A Fun Fall Outdoor Activity
As the air gets cooler, we typically begin to see less people out and about in the community enjoying the outdoors and taking part in activities but fall is a great season for keeping active. Not only is it more comfortable to exercise in the cooler temps, the beautiful fall colours of the changing leaves make for some idyllic outdoor adventures.

Apple picking is one great way to have fun outdoors and get your legs moving! You may be surprised by how many steps you take while walking around an orchard. And a lot of orchards offer other activities like corn mazes, outdoor games and snacks.

As the old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” suggests, apples are very rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients help lower blood sugar and cholesterol, fight diseases, and build stronger bones. Eating apples regularly also strengthens teeth and helps maintain good oral health. If possible, keep the skin on your apples when you eat them, as the skin is actually the most nutritious part.

Check out the weather forecast, look for a nice bright, cool day and plan your trip to the apple orchard!
Recipe of the Week
Blueberry Muffin Bread

This blueberry muffin bread is soft, moist, and loaded with blueberries. Since there are no individual muffins, this batter goes from the mixing bowl to the oven in minutes. Though this quick bread is outstanding on its own, a swirl of blueberry jam and sprinkle of crumble topping create a delicious crust. Enjoy a slice with your morning coffee or as a late-night snack!
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Poll Question
What is your feeling about the many students returning to the classroom this week?
As long as everyone follows the guidelines, I think we’ll be okay.
Makes me a bit nervous.
I’m very concerned.
Poll Results
Which is the best streaming platform?
Netflix 77.5%
Disney + 2.5%
Amazon Prime 15%
Crave TV 5%