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Justine works a cash register for a customer as her mother helps out

The hope of a brighter future

Every parent worries about their child’s future. But, for Gladys Chen See, that worry was compounded. Her daughter Justine was born with an intellectual disability. “I’m an older mother,” admits Gladys. “One day, I’m not going to be here to support my daughter. That’s very concerning as a parent.”

Too often, youth like Justine fall through the cracks because of a lack of access to services, extraordinary wait times for supported living, and the stigma that continues to surround intellectually disabled individuals and their families. Not to mention the challenges these young people face in achieving a level of independence.

With your gift to United Way Toronto & York Region, Gladys created an opportunity that has changed her daughter’s life. Through Community Living York South, a United Way–funded agency, Gladys, along with other parents of special-needs youth, turned a once-vacant tuck shop into a place where their kids could learn valuable life skills. After purchasing a cash register and appliances, they opened the shop, with Justine and her peers behind the counter as employees.

Now, Justine has not only acquired practical skills, but she’s also found a sense of community and purpose. “I have a responsibility,” explains Justine, who thought she would never be able to use a cash register. “I thought it would be too difficult, but now I can serve customers and even do inventory.”

And Gladys is equally thrilled. It’s reassuring to know that her daughter has found a safe place to grow.

“As parents, we need to focus on the abilities of our children, because special-needs youth have the potential to do more than you think,” says Gladys. “I can’t thank Community Living and United Way enough for giving us hope that our children have a promising future ahead of them.”

That gift of hope is courtesy of generous donors like you.