Luso Canadian Charitable Society
Founded in 2002 out of the former Society of Disabled Persons of Ontario.
It’s very important for us to spread the word and continue to tell the world that this is not a matter of charity. It’s a matter of supporting and requesting government aid, so that we can have a world that is inclusive of everyone and is accessible to all – Lena Barreto.
Formed by a group of Portuguese community leaders, the Luso Canadian Charitable Society has been helping adults with developmental and physical disabilities since 2002. Over the next fifteen years, this organization opened large, state-of-the-art centres in Toronto, Hamilton, and Mississauga, offering a wide range of programs. Initially dedicated to serving the Portuguese-speaking community, this organization soon expanded its services to the broader community. Much of its growth has relied on fundraising with governments, businesses, volunteers and generous supporters.
The Luso Canadian Charitable Society (LCCS) was formed by a group of Portuguese businessmen and one labour leader – Jack Prazeres, John Gonçalves, José Pinto, and António Dionísio – who recognized the great need for a centre that could offer services in Portuguese to those for whom the English language was a barrier to access. They learned about this need upon meeting with The Society of Disabled Persons of Ontario (SDPO). This organization was created in the 1980s and comprised of volunteers who provided assistance, support, and guidance to individuals with disabilities and their families. Because the SDPO had no fixed location, the organizers formed the charity now know as LCCS in 2002 to raise the funds required to build a centre. It soon became apparent that the need for its services extended beyond the Portuguese community. So the goal became to provide programs and services for all disabled persons irrespective of ethnicity.
The LCCS purchased the property at 2295 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, and began construction in April 2004. The project was funded by corporations, various levels of governments, community businesses, private families, and the hard work of many volunteers. The Centre opened on June 23, 2007, with large program rooms, a life skills kitchen, a computer lab, and many amenities offering various day programs for people with disabilities and their families. Here, clients continue to learn social skills through group participation, build greater independence, self-esteem, and facilitate integration within the community.
In 2012, the LCCS launched the Overnight Respite Care Program, offering much needed support for caregivers providing 24/7 care. After being approached by Portuguese Support Services for Quality Living (PSSQL) in Hamilton, about the need for such services locally, the LCCS began working on a similar project in that city. The PSSQL then formally became part of the LCCS. The Luso Support Centre of Hamilton location opened on October 6, 2012. The new centre is a state-of-the-art facility with large activity rooms, a gym, a kitchen on each floor, a computer area, a Snoezelen room and a beautiful rooftop garden. The varied activities provide participants with extraordinary care and the support required to meet the needs of each individual.
In October 2016, LCCS purchased a property in Mississauga. After extensive renovations, the Peel Centre opened in the spring of 2017, expanding programming and services to the Region of Peel. This state-of-the-art facility, equipped with spacious program rooms, computers, a rooftop garden and more, provides a warm, welcoming environment for participants and families to enjoy interactive day programs, build friendships, and expand personal horizons. In September 2019, the LCCS embarked on a Residential Services Project to provide a safe, appropriate environment for adults living with disabilities. This project is currently underway. In February 2023, at the 14th Annual Gala (the first held since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic), Jack Prazeres, President of LCCS, announced two planned upcoming supportive housing residential projects, for Hamilton and Toronto, which will accommodate 74 individuals with special needs. These projects are currently underway.
Written by LCCS. Edited for length by Gilberto Fernandes.
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