our history

More than 60 years of building community

Our story starts in 1958, when a a small group of parents established a classroom for their children in the West End primary school in Port Hope.

1950 to 1969

  • In 1958, a small group of parents established a classroom for their children in the West End primary school in Port Hope.  The school was named Sunshine Heights.
  • The Association received its’ charter in 1959.  An organization to monitor and support this new school was named the Port Hope/Cobourg Association for Retarded Children.  The parents were the founding members of the executive.
  • In 1966, the Association expanded.  The parent group opened a sheltered workshop on Roe Street in Cobourg.  The Rebekahs and the Odd Fellow Lodge were important supporters of this initiative.  The charter name was revised to The Association for the Mentally Retarded, to more accurately reflect service provision to both children and adults.  The workshop was named ARC for Adult Rehabilitation Center.

1980 to 1989

  • In 1980, a survey of Northumberland County agencies supporting children with disabilities was taken to gauge the need of local respite services.
  • Northumberland Family Respite Services (NFRS) was launched on June 1, 1981 to answer to the need for parent relief as indicated in that survey.
  • The next major expansion for the Association also occurred in 1981, with the building of a much larger workshop in Cobourg.  The number of people supported jumped from 13 people each day to 20, to 36 and then to 40.
  • As the demand for services increased in the mid eighties, three additional locations were opened in Port Hope and Cobourg.  In 1983, Life Skills Training Center opened in Port Hope.  In 1985, Supportive Employment Services and a Leisure Activities Program opened to support adults who had finished school.
  • In 1987, in keeping with a province-wide reform, the Association was again renamed to better reflect the times.  It was named the Port Hope/Cobourg & District Association for Community Living.

1990 to 1999

  • Based on another community survey in 1989, Northumberland Family Respite Services expanded its services to include adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities beginning January 1990.
  • In 1991, Northumberland Family Respite Services was incorporated and became a registered charitable organization in 1992.
  • Following the closure of D’Arcy Place Developmental Center as part of the government’s initiative to close Ontario institutions, Northumberland Family Respite Services expanded to adopt D’Arcy Place’s Family Home program in 1994.
  • In 1995, the Association also expanded services to adults as a result of the D’Arcy Place closure, welcoming 30 additional people.
  • In 1997, the Association began providing support to both children and youth.  This resulted in a change to the Association’s charter.
  • In 1999, the Association began a major restructuring of services.  Four support locations were closed; three Community Connection locations and the Life Skills Center.  The Community Living Resource Center and the Ontario Street locations were retained.
  • Three separate support streams were developed as a result of the restructuring, with a focus of providing more community based activities that would address people’s individual choices.  The Social/Recreation/Leisure Support Stream, which operates out of both the Port Hope and Cobourg locations, the Vocational Employment Stream and the Advanced Skills/fundamental Support Stream.
  • The initiative to support youths (aged 16-21), called Building Bridges, was provided more secure funding so the Association could continue to support families.  This initiative assists youths and families to plan for the transition from high school to life in the community.

2000 to 2009

  • In 2004, the Association received funding to provide a new program called Foundations Building the Steps to Community.  This initiative supports adults leaving school in an effort to make that successful transition to their life in the community.
  • In 2005, the Association welcomed the addition of EARN (Employment Assistance Resource Network).  The Association became an official Ontario Disability Support Program service provider for Employment Supports.  This program offers services to individuals who may have a barrier or disability to employment, as well as people who are at risk of losing their job due to their disability.
  • In 2006, Emotional Awareness training module was developed in partnership with the Department of Psychology and Research under Dr. parker at Trent University.  This program was designed for people of all ages to develop and enhance their overall emotional intelligence.
  • In 2006, workshops were developed and implemented to teach specialized skills in a group model for a specific time period.  The workshops goal was to offer people the opportunity for group interaction and learn specific skills.
  • In 2006, our Multi Sensory Room was developed to provide an opportunity for people who have sensory issues and/or developmental disabilities with an appropriate relaxation and leisure facility.  The Multi Sensory Room is available to all community members in Northumberland County free of charge.
  • In 2007, Northumberland Family Respite Services began hosting respiteservices.com, which allowed the organization to recruit, train, and pay third-party independent respite service providers for families.
  • In 2009, Community Living-West Northumberland launched its website.

2010 – present

  • Community Living-West Northumberland and Northumberland Family Respite Services shared similar values, principles, and vision, and had a long history of close collaboration and coordination of services for people with developmental disabilities and their families. In 2015, CL-WN and NFRS entered into a Shared Executive Services Agreement; an amalgamation was then the natural progression for the already successful partnership.
  • In January 2021, the organizations amalgamated to create the new organization, Community Living and Respite Services Northumberland. Central to the amalgamation was the commitment to preserve pre-existing values, traditions, services, and the intention to continue growing by expanding and diversifying services to meet the changing needs of the people and families supported.
  • In 2022, the organization announced its new name and branding, becoming Community Living & Respite Northumberland. The word “community” is at the center of this branding because it’s at the center of the organization. The grid pattern in the new logo is inspired by the way community is built – physically as a collection of structures, but also the collection of people and groups. The grey hearts represent the wraparound care the organization strives for paired with the red heart representing the care held within the organization.

Want to help us to make a difference?

Community Living & Respite Northumberland is a not-for-profit, charitable organization with a mandate to provide support to individuals with an intellectual disability.