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Celebrating safe and supportive living at Sunset

['Community Editorial Panel with Clare Christie']
['Community Editorial Panel with Clare Christie']

Community Editorial Panel with Clare Christie

In 1965, Charlie Fairbanks and I thought it would be great fun to go to the ARHS prom after both having completed a year of university. Charlie was always quick-witted with a great sense of humour - as well as good-looking - so it was a fun evening into the wee smalls, ending up with other members of his family who were partying at the family cottage in Pugwash.

That summer a motorcycle accident changed his life forever. Very quickly he began focussing on his art. At some point he became known as Rufus.

Recently I attended a celebration of the 71 years of his life at Mundle’s Funeral Home in Pugwash, and more recently I attended the Opening of “Not an Old Horse” Exhibit of Rufus Fairbanks at the Sunset Adult Residential Centre that was his home.

The centre is a huge building near the salt plant in Pugwash, set on picturesque grounds overlooking the river. Look up to see for yourself.

Sunset Residential and Rehabilitation Services Inc. calls itself “The Sunset Community”, providing services to adults with disabilities through Independent Living Support, licensed group homes and Sunset Industries as well as the Adult Residential Centre. There is now a thrift shop in Oxford.

The website states that the community provides “safe and supportive living, learning and work environments so each individual can live a satisfying and meaningful life. Individuals are encouraged and supported to participate in their own individual support plan so that they may participate in their community, have meaningful employment and opportunities for growth.”

I was interested to read that “The Sunset Community is a leader in removing barriers which prevent those we support from access to choices.”

Their values - Respect & Dignity, Compassion, Accountability, Excellence, Learning, Collaboration, Maximization of resources - are each explained. They are summed up by “People helping people to be the best they can be”.

Nearly 200 staff and volunteers “provide quality services and family support through various programs for adults with intellectual disabilities, cognitive challenges, chronic mental illness, acquired brain injury and physical disabilities. Individuals have opportunities to develop their potential through educational, recreational, social and vocational programs. A variety of professional services including medical and psychiatric services, behavioral support, nursing, nutrition, social work, occupational therapy and other resources are also available.”

At the Sunset Fair, open to the public each year, in 2018 on July 14, Bonnie Langille, Leader of Lifestyles and Volunteer Services, answered some of our questions. The Centre was built in 1895 and has always served a special needs population. Its history was published in a book celebrating its centennial is 1995. Recently extensive renovations were completed. It currently serves about sixty residents but has accommodated over one hundred. Residents arrive frequently, some for short stays until places are found for them in other provincial centres. Staff are continuously being hired and are introduced every three weeks. The Centre operates on a per diem basis paid by the Province.         

Afterwards, we listened to Eric Fresia sing and play guitar, watched the Sam and Ghost Dog Agility Show, and rubbed our tummies full of complimentary tea and sweets. I wandered off to check out the various Community Auxiliary tables and inevitably bought a pair of earrings.

To buy my publications, including my new The Christie Book, a genealogy, and my almost new Read More About Amherst, a collection of my last forty columns to 2017, go to the Amherst Artisan Gallery, Amherst Centre Mall and to Maritime Mosaic, Dayle’s, Victoria Street, Amherst.

Coles carries My dear Alice.

For my six earlier self-published books and booklets, go to the Cumberland County Museum and Archives; the YMCA Amherst; Flying Colours, Maccan; and Main and Station, Parrsboro.

Clare Christie is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.  She can be reached at           

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