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Community Living Mayors’ Luncheon speaker a hit with all attendees

About 150 people attended the annual Community Living Essex County Mayors’ Luncheon on Friday, May 3 at the St. Mary’s Hall in Maidstone.

Mayors, deputy mayors and councillors were on hand, along with Community Living board members, staff and clients, to talk about Community Living Essex County and all of the programs and services they offer.

Chair and President of the CLEC Board of Directors, Sue Desjarlais, spoke about the services offered and what the future holds for the organization.

“We’re in our 63rd year as an organization,” she said. “I’m very proud of Community Living Essex County. We support over 700 people in the county. Community Living is doing great things.”

Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti, bringing greetings on behalf of the County of Essex, was grateful to CLEC for their community involvement.

“Each of us owes Community Living Essex County a debt of gratitude for all they do in our municipalities,” he said. “You celebrate inclusion. Real authentic inclusion.”

The guest speaker was Michael Jacques, the current board president of Community Living Ontario — who also has a disability.

At a young age, Michael was diagnosed with autism and an intellectual disability.

Being unable to read or write, Michael took it upon himself to use technology — text to speech — to write his first book in 2016.

To date he’s sold over 21,000 copies of his first book, entitled ‘Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book.’

He followed it up with a second book, entitled ‘I Belong, Can I Play?’, which has sold over 4,000 to date.

The former Special Olympian is a valued employee at Sobey’s in his hometown of Fonthill and has been featured in many articles and on TV shows throughout Canada and the U.S.

Michael’s presentation included his father, Marcel, who helped him with the slide presentation and explained certain aspects.

It was a comical back-and-forth between the two, but the love and admiration they have for each other shone through more than anything.

They spoke on challenges that Michael faces, how technology has helped him overcome some of those challenges and how the idea for the book got started.

His manager at the Sobeys store was so impressed he allowed Michael to sell his books at the store, which caught the attention of Sobey’s head office, who invited him to Toronto for a meet and greet. From there, Sobey’s stores across Ontario and the Maritimes were also selling his books.

He’s now done over 400 public speaking engagements and is a popular choice at the Ontario Police College, where he has shared his story with over 6,000 cadets over the past six years.

Tony DeSantis, Manager of Communications at CLEC, thanked Michael for his presentation before those in attendance stood in line to purchase a copy of their own.

This week’s
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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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