Sunbeam News & Events

Armanda and Matthew’s Family

Armanda and her husband are the parents of one of Sunbeam’s residents, Matthew, and their family also includes three daughters.  Matthew is deaf and on the autism spectrum.  Their family is strong and resilient.  Since Matthew’s move to a Sunbeam residence their family’s home looks different than it ever has, as it is spread between two different houses.

Armanda and young Matthew

Until recent years, Matthew lived at home with his parents and sisters.  He was accepted to attend an out of town school that was able to accommodate his auditory needs, but was not well prepared to handle the other aspects of Matthew’s situation. Armanda was often called to the school to assist or to bring Matthew home for the day.  This meant that home was unpredictable, single income, and high stress.

Armanda felt the responsibility, as mom, to both provide appropriate care for Matthew, and a  good environment for the rest of her family.  On Matthew’s difficult days however, this would often mean that the family would be separated, with Dad taking the girls out, and mom staying home to help calm and assist Matthew.  This meant that home was segregated, protected, and lonely.

After a few aggressive incidents, it became clear that the family home was no longer a safe place for Matthew and his family to live together.  Armanda discovered Sunbeam and its work in her community and recognized an opportunity to provide two safe homes for her children – one managed and staffed by professionals who are able to provide proper care and a great lifestyle for Matthew, and one where mom and dad could live safely with their daughters and provide a fair amount of attention to each of their three children without risking anyone’s wellbeing.  This meant home became more peaceful, predictable, and hopeful.

Armanda and her family are learning to live well within this new definition of what home is for their family.  Armanda is learning how to maintain her identify as “mom” to Matthew while watching the fantastic staff at Sunbeam fulfill the tasks that used to define her relationship with her son. Matthew’s sisters are learning what home is like when mom’s attention is more evenly dispersed and how to be sisters to a brother who lives in another home environment.  Dad is enjoying more time with his wife, and a new relationship with his son that looks much different than it has in the past.  Matthew is learning that home is much bigger than he has previously experienced.  He has support to live in the way that feels most comfortable and safe to him. He is able to express himself and be understood.

Dad, Matthew, Sisters, and Armanda pose for a photoHome is hard.  Home is chaos.  Home is commitment. Home is the security to change and grow.

Armanda is an awesome mother and advocate for Matthew.  Her commitment and dedication to her family’s health and wellbeing is inspiring and Sunbeam is much richer for having them as a part of our family.

This is just one of the many great stories that Sunbeam has to share.  This story was originally featured in the 2017/2018 Annual Report.


Posted in Sunbeam News

Making Contact, Making Connection, Making Community – Lunch and Learn

Dave Hingsburger, a well-known speaker and advocate was the keynote speaker at Sunbeam’s Lunch & Learn on September 25th.  Dave is a humourous storyteller who is able to relay his message through his own life experiences.  He shares these in such a real, raw and honest way that they spark some serious emotions.  His main message is very clear: The way we can best support individuals with disabilities is to really get to know who they are and help them find their community.   

Here is one of the many stories Dave shared that clearly outlined how we want to be making contact, making connections and making community:  

Dave was visiting a group home to offer support to staff and an individual supported he noticed, each time he visited this home, a man sitting in a rocking chair, rocking continually.  We will call him Simon.  After several visits to the group home, having a few spare minutes at the end of a meeting, Dave asked about Simon in the rocking chair. The staff were able to share that he is was an easy person to take care of.  “Tell me what he likes”, encouraged Dave.  Well, no one had an answer other than “Simon likes to rock in his chair.”  Simon rocks but does that make him happy? was Dave’s thought.  So he put the challenge out to the staff that at his next visit he wanted to know one thing, besides rocking, that Simon liked.  Upon his return he was happily met by a front line worker who shared that while out for a drive, Simon had laughed out loud at the sound of a garbage truck backing up.  Wow this is great, said Dave.  Now how can we recreate this same sound? Someone suggested video games, which was a great idea and so the home purchased an Atari system and the game Pong.  For anyone who does not know what the game of Pong is, it is one of the first computer games that was ever created.  It’s been described as a “tennis like” game and it features two paddles and a ball.  The ball travels from the top of the screen to the bottom where, with your joystick you try and connect with the ball to the paddle so that it will bounce back.  It makes a crazy sound that we had hoped would make Simon Laugh out Loud (LOL).

Well it was a success, not only did Simon love to watch staff play the games but with just a few adjustments to the joystick, he was able to play it himself.  This was clearly what made Simon happy.  Now, how could community be created for Simon with this new found internal passion?  They headed down to the local arcade.  The noises in that place were loud, they varied in tone, and they hit from all directions. Simon found his community, and going to the arcade became part of his routine.  As the players got to know him by name they would greet him and call him over to their game to cheer them on.  Simon, who previously spent his days rocking back and forth on his own, had integrated into a community where he was able to actively contribute, and where he became known and appreciated for who he was and what he had to offer.  

What we learned from that story and the others Dave shared was that there is an intentional act required of us. We must connect and build relationships with the individuals in our care so that they can experience it with others.  So he challenged everyone in attendance about their thinking, encouraging us all to look within each individual we serve to help them connect with others in real community.  The first step to that is engaging with each individual to uncover the passion within them. 

This was one of two Lunch and Learns presented by Sunbeam Centre this year.   Thank you to the many other agencies that attended.  If you are interested in 2019 Lunch and Learns please connect with Carole at or 519-893-6200 x 250.

Posted in Sunbeam News