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It’s a warm and sunny summer morning just outside of Nanaimo.  The backdrop is a picturesque rural farm that is Colen and her partner Mike’s home, which they share with Ruth under NACL's Home Share program.

We are a small group of five people, and we are here for a visit with Ruth and Colen.  Each of us are seated on lawn chairs, spaced according to recent COVID-19 requirements.

Our conversation easily slips into Ruth and Colen telling us how Ruth came to be living with Colen and her partner Mike on this amazing country farm.  Ruth and Colen talk about how they are each other’s ‘best good friend,’ and how that relationship evolved.


Ruth’s story with NACL began over 30 years ago.  Ruth’s mother and father, along with a small group of parents who had adult children with developmental disabilities, met to explore the idea of providing services for people with differing abilities.  They believed that additional programs were needed to provide their adult children with more choices, in order to achieve their fullest and best lives.  As a result, Nanaimo Association for Community Living was “born” on July 22, 1986.   

Ruth tells us that she can’t quite remember all the programs that she has been able to participate in at NACL, since it began – but with just a little prompting from Colen, she talks about the Day Programs and the friends she has made there.  Ruth is quick to add how she has also enjoyed her workplace experiences, which also includes helping out at the NACL office.


“I get paid to be a part of the NACL cleaning crew on Fridays.  I really like that and miss it because of the COVID virus closing the office.”

In 2008, NACL launched the ‘NACLWorks!’ program (now NACL Employment Services), that has provided meaningful employment and work experience ever since.  Ruth was part of that initial program, and has excelled at various work experience opportunities since then.

“I also was part of the Downtown Nanaimo recycling program on Commercial Street when that was running, and I worked at the Cedar Wood Farm (the Farm at Cedar Woods) and Westhaven Nursery!”

Her eyes immediately shift to where Colen is seated, “…and that’s when I met Colen and Mike.  We worked together at Westhaven looking after all the plants.”


“We first met Ruth when she came to work at the nursery where both Mike and I worked.  As a result of knowing Ruth, we were able to meet her mother and that developed into a bond of friendship that was like family for us.  When Ruth’s mother passed, we knew we wanted to do more for Ruth.  Ruth’s brother and sister lived in eastern Canada, and we knew we wanted to have Ruth share our home with us.”

Colen explains, “Ruth’s mother had always wanted Ruth to be able to live an independent or semi-independent life.  Ruth has thrived to become a confident woman, who has just celebrated her 62nd birthday with us in July!”

“Being a part of the NACL Home Share Program has been something we just feel fortunate to be doing.”

The Home Share Program has supported Ruth to experience life skills in a family environment.  Ruth, like many others in the program, also takes part in additional NACL programs that provide work experience, a network of friends, and the confidence to make their own choices in their lives.




Ruth’s confidence today has her heading out for walks on the country roads that surround her rural home.  She recently acquired her own cell phone and she confidently travels on her own, taking direct flights to and returning from eastern Canada to visit her brother in Quebec and her sister in Ontario.

Colen states, “I hope through these Amazing Stories that NACL is doing, that more people will get to know how necessary it is to open their homes and their hearts to programs like Home Share.  For us, sharing our home and our lives with Ruth has been the chance to support her to gain confidence and independence in a safe and supportive home.”  


Ruth says she loves where she lives.  We asked her if Colen and Mike were her best friends.  Enthusiastically she replied, “YES!”


This prompted a question as to whether best friends sometimes disagree.

Both Ruth and Colen acknowledged that yes, disagreements can happen.  When asked how they get over any disagreements they might have, Colen replied, “We talk.  We know we can’t always agree, but we can always be honest with each other when we tell the truth.  And then, we just agree to disagree.”

Ruth smiled…and then agreed!!!


Ruth is a happy, confident, and supported woman.  


They are a family.


Our Home Share Team would love to speak with you about the program, and how you could possibly get involved!  Click here for a description of the program itself - or click the button below to connect with our Senior Home Share Manager, Brianna Otto.

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