By Lara Neroutsos, Deafblind Support Worker, Canadian Hearing Services North Bay
When some people hear the word “Deafblind” they tend to think about a person’s disability instead of their abilities. As a Deafblind Support Worker with Canadian Hearing Services (CHS), I am happy to share the amazing abilities of one of my many talented clients.
Andre St. Pere lives in the Northeastern Ontario town of Sturgeon Falls with a population of approximately 6,800. He has been a client of the Deafblind Services program at CHS for more than 10 years, but he has been a woodworker for decades longer. Andre makes beautiful pieces out of more than 10 types of wood, including bookshelves, cabinets, jewelry boxes, urns, and cutting boards. His work is sold at the Sturgeon Falls Flea Market, The North Bay Farmers Market and in towns between Sturgeon Falls and Ottawa.
As a Deafblind Support Worker, I provide Andre assistance by serving as his eyes and ears as he shops for products or when he makes contacts (by phone or in person) with potential buyers. I drive him to and from medical and personal business appointments. I also help with clarifying verbal or written information and helping him find the items he needs to purchase. Andre finds the most wonderful antique hardware - including drawer pulls and handles - at thrift shops and second-hand stores. He has also worked with the Nipissing Parry Sound Business Centre to develop business cards and brochures.
“If not for intervention, my quality of life and business would be non-existent,” Andre says.
Andre is a joy to work with and he always has a joke or funny story to tell. His positive outlook and his determination to continue the beautiful work he does, regardless of any challenge, are an inspiration to me.
“With CHS Deafblind Services, there are no more limits and I have access to all venues,” Andre says.