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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Policing committee presents $10,000 to LIFE

by Sylene Argent

Part of the role of the Essex M OPP Community Policing Committee is to help build positive relationships between law enforcement personnel and community members, and support community initiatives.

  In keeping with that mandate, the Essex M OPP Community Policing Committee forwarded $10,000 to the fairly new organization, “Learning in Friendship and Equality (LIFE)” last Wednesday evening.

  LIFE moved into the former Essex Kinsmen Fieldhouse in August, and is offering a program to help clients, ages 19 and over with special needs, to achieve their best. Part of the program is offering trips around the community, therapeutic, culinary, and social opportunities. Clients are also learning about grocery shopping, daily hygiene, and other important skills.

  “I cried like a baby,” Lea-Anne (LA) Shepley, Program Director for LIFE, said when she found out how much the donation was for. When the Committee first reached out to her, she expected a few hundred dollars to come her way, and she was excited about that. “I can’t believe it. We are overjoyed and in awe.

  “We know how much you have to do to raise this [amount]. It’s is unbelievable,” She added.

  Shepley said the donation will go a long way in supporting the program. Part of the funds will go towards the cost to purchase the new signage that was recently installed on the exterior of the building and in obtaining a portable dishwasher. The addition of the dishwasher at the facility will not only be a tool for cleanliness, it will help teach clients an important skill, Shepley explained, noting may of her clients have dishwashers at home and this would be a great way to teach them how to load one properly.   

  Years ago, when attending Ryerson College, Shepley said the idea for the LIFE program began when working on a project. Around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was working for the GECDSB as an educational assistant, and thought it was time to finally pursue her dreams.

  The LIFE program is designed to continue to develop skills for special needs clients. Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Shepley said her clients will be looking for volunteer opportunities in the community.

  Sarah Werstein, Community Policing Constable for the Municipality of Essex, said the Committee was pleased to support LIFE because of all it offers its clients over the age of 19, which ties into the goals of the Committee. She noted the funds were raised through various fundraisers the Committee members hosted in the past, including a dinner last year.  

  The Committee members unanimously decided to forward these funds to the LIFE program, seeing the value to the community.

  Due to COVID-19, the Essex M OPP Community Policing Committee did not host any fundraisers this year. In the past, this group also used some of the funds it raised to hosted free public skates around the holiday season, as a way to foster positive relationships between local police personnel and youths. It also sponsors high school bursaries for deserving graduates.   


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