During a recent bypass operation, Luan’s heart stopped due to complications and she died on the operating table. At 83, this was just one of many surgeries and many close calls Luan has had over the years.
Thankfully, doctors were able to revive Luan and she is now safely in the supportive living apartment she calls home.
Born during the depression, Luan is the oldest of 5 children and has resided in both Burlington and Hamilton throughout her lifetime.
In her earlier years, Luan was an avid painter, creating masterpieces that still hang in her apartment. But age and arthritis has changed her ability to do this. She can still get creative with adult colouring books and does so while listening to John Lennon every chance she gets.
Luan is known by her family, friends, neighbours, and care workers as a “card” and she rarely utters a sentence without inserting a joke. Luan doesn’t take herself too seriously and is sure to spread joy wherever she goes.
Luan lives by herself but she says she is not a lonely person. She has made close friends with her telephone volunteer that has called her daily for the past ten years. They update each other on friends and family, births and deaths of loved ones. They talk about “everything under the sun. She has told me things that I know she has not told anyone else” said Luan.
Due to her age and health issues, Luan also has assistance with cooking, cleaning and other household chores, but she insists on still doing her own dishes. “Because I can” she says. “I’m going to keep going until it stops”.
A United Way donor all of her life, Luan did not expect to find herself in a position where she would need assistance from United Way. “You work hard, ya know. You don’t expect that it could happen to you, but you never know when you’re going to need help.”
Luan is grateful for the network of support she receives from United Way. Her volunteers and care workers have become like family to her. “When you’re sitting in that chair, you’re very vulnerable. It’s nice to have people who care and who can anticipate your needs”.
Thanks to donors like you, Luan continues to live with some assistance in her own apartment where she can listen to “John”, as she calls him, while working on her next masterpiece.
When children and adults with intellectual disabilities have an opportunity to participate in programs, “its almost like there’s a seed that’s planted, and it gets nourished by the interactions with their peers, program facilitators, and community as a whole”.
Cam came to Canada as a refugee when he was seven years old. He and his family faced the same challenges as many new Canadians. “You start at the bottom,” he says. “You have nothing, but you slowly start to build your way up.”