[Editor's Note: The Bridge Adult Service Centre is a day program in Amherst, N.S. for adults with intellectual disabilities, offering clients employment through services like small contracts, laundry services, and a used clothing store. SaltWire's Mark Goudge shares with us a day in the life at the centre].
When you walk into the Bridge Adult Service Centre in Amherst you can feel the positive energy right away. The buzz of activity to the smiles on the faces of the clients as they complete their jobs at the facility. The excitement is not limited to the clients as can be seen as Executive Director Anne March and her Assistant executive Director Joanne Hopper during the tour of the facility. They and the staff members are as equally motivated by their clients as the clients by them. Allan Melanson who works in the store is a 49-year client and has as much enthusiasm today as he had on his first day beaming with pride.
The program has come a long way since its beginnings in 1965 as an activity program by parents of special needs individuals who did not have a day program in the basement of Trinity St. Stephens Church. Funding came from the town of Amherst the department of education and various service groups and now falls under the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL). Since then the program has had a number of locations that have lead it to its current location on Station Rd. in Amherst. The facility houses the programs The Bridge Laundry that does laundry for local residents and some local business’, donation sorting area, store and storage for their online auction items. They have even recently added a cooking class for the clients that has been very well received having clients giving each other high fives when they find out they are in the class.
The program truly lives up to its Mission Statement “To provide programs. Services and opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities to allow them to reach their fullest potential as members of our community”