GUYSBOROUGH – When you walk in the door of the Guysborough Options for Adaptive Living Society (G.O.A.L.S), located in the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex on 60 Green Street, Guysborough, you'll know you've come upon something unique.
GOALS, a non-profit organization, began in the mid-90s to meet the needs of developmentally challenged adults living in the Guysborough area. Donna Cook, who is retiring from her position as manager at GOALS at the end of the year, was a driving force behind the creation of the organization which works to meet clients' personal development, vocational, social and recreational needs while advocating for clients through community integration.
In an interview on Friday, Cook said the creation of GOALS stemmed from her work in the Special Education classes at the local high school. “My people were leaving the school system and going home to absolutely nothing. Guysborough County was the only county in the province of Nova Scotia not to have a facility for people with special needs. So we decided that they needed a place; a second home.”
GOALS currently offers clients a number of programs such as work placements in the community, a catering program that offers meals to the public every Friday, a used clothing store and a transition program for students with special needs who will soon be completing high school. “They're learning skills through the programs,” said Cook.
Over the years GOALS has seen some ups and downs and moved through several locations. It started on Green Street, next to the local schools, moved to the bus garage, the bowling alley and now to its most recent location, once again on Green Street, at the new Chedabucto Lifestyle Centre; the facility sits on the footprint of the building that originally housed GOALS. “We're feeling comfortable now,” said Cook happily.
When asked about her thoughts on retirement Cook said, “I have mixed feelings about it.” She noted that she would remain active on the GOALS Board of Directors.
Heather Hadley, who has also been with the organization since the beginning, will take over the managerial position at GOALS in the new year. “I don't know how easy it will be to fill her shoes,” said Hadley.
Cook hastily commented, “I have no doubt she'll do a fine job.”
And moving into Hadley's former position at GOALS as program supervisor is Jimmy Ryves. The advertised position received nine applicants which were winnowed to three individuals who were interviewed. “Ryves”, said Hadley, “had the experience, had the courses; he had everything we needed.”
Ryves, originally from England, immigrated to Nova Scotia and settled in Boylston in 2016. Before his appointment at GOALS he was employed with CACL and L'Arche at the Heatherton Group Home.
Ryves said of his new position, “I was very shocked, I was amazed it came my way and very humbled. I want to do the best I can here.” He added that he will be focusing on building relationships with GOALS clients when he starts work in the new year.
“My main goal,” said Ryves regarding his new position, “is to get rid of stigma and I want the clients to be welcomed and accepted in the community. That is my vision.”
Cook said, “We've come a long way in that area in 23 years.”