Lorne was a victim in his own community—disregarded and disrespected because he had a learning disability. He was convinced no one would ever accept him for who he was.
As one of eight children Lorne was born into a chaotic environment. He was a sad, angry and neglected young boy. By age 15 Lorne was having trouble with skills all of his friends tackled with ease. Reading retention, writing essays and solving math equations were noticeably difficult. His ability to understand and communicate was limited. He worried about embarrassing himself in front of the class, struggled to express himself and was frustrated by his own limitations.
Before long, Lorne was diagnosed with a learning disability and was subject to society’s devaluing attitudes and stigmatization. His low self-esteem often lead to irresponsible, reckless and foolish acts. But, through positive reinforcement and the determination to keep going when things were tough, Lorne emerged with a strong sense of confidence and is a successful, contributing member of society.
Today, Lorne is one of close to 160 individuals employed at The Salvation Army’s Booth Packaging and Supportive Services in Toronto. Here men and women, ages 18-65, with a diagnosed psychiatric illness and/or developmental disability, not only receive vocational rehabilitation, but goal-oriented counselling, crisis intervention, and continuing education classes with Toronto Board of Education.
On any given day you might hear Lorne’s voice if you call reception, or you might find him in the general assembly plant putting labels on water bottles, or rolling and wrapping hot towels. In any case, the program’s step-by-step instruction and hands on activities have helped develop Lorne’s social and employment skills, restored his confidence and increased his sense of value.
“At Booth Packaging and Supportive Services clients are taught in ways that are tailored to their unique learning styles,” says Executive Director, Allison McDonald. “We want them to succeed, achieve and believe in themselves. Our goal is that at the end of the day they feel productive, that they have purpose, and that they, themselves, are contributing to the community.”
“Learning is hard work,” says Lorne. “But at Booth Packaging and Supportive Services I feel like I matter. I get up every day with something to look forward to. “