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Day in the Life: Karen Dunbar, Services Specialist

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Karen Dunbar is a Services Specialist for Muscular Dystrophy Canada in the Ontario and Nunavut region, one of a number of Services staff across the country.  Karen helps registered clients with systems navigation including assistance with paperwork and finding resources.  She offers her advice on many service related topics to help clients, and speaks at various functions to spread the word about Muscular Dystrophy Canada and the many programs available including Muscle Facts and Information Days.  Karen plans the Information Days throughout Ontario.  She secures local speakers to share their expertise on disability management, arranges for community groups to fill booths and share their knowledge for the day as well as personally reaches out to clients to let them know about the event.

Karen recently planned a Networking and Information Day in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario along with two partners from March of Dimes Canada and Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012:

8:30 a.m.: After spending Monday travelling to Sault Ste. Marie and assembling gift bags for participants while arranging all last minute details, Karen spends Monday night at the venue hotel.  On Tuesday morning she heads to the conference room in the hotel to check the room’s arrangement, set up the registration table and gift bags, and organizing conference exhibitors.

10:00 a.m.: Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s Executive Director of Ontario, Stacey Lintern, welcomes the 60 delegates, which include individuals with neuromuscular disorders, individuals with disabilities, caregivers and health professionals.  Karen facilitates the day by introducing and thanking the speakers whose session topics include:

  • Red Cross and Emergency Preparedness
  • Vulnerable Persons Registry
  • Self Advocacy
  • Accessibility Legislation
  • Community Health Living Project/Fitness for those with barriers
  • Wounds: What Can We Do
  • North East Community Care Access Centre
  • Ontario Disability Employment Supports

11:00 a.m.: Karen presents on self-advocacy.  Her message includes:

  • Individuals must know and understand their rights and responsibilities
  • How to effectively and assertively advocate for your own needs.
  • You know yourself best and it’s up to you to say what you want and need, and make sure you are heard!
  • The solution may not be particularly quick or easy, but making the issue known is the first step toward resolution.

12:15 p.m.: Karen makes her way around the room to chat with those in attendance at lunch and on breaks.  She puts a face to a name for many of the people she talks with because she spent time personally calling clients in the area to invite them to the event.  When she chats with those individuals, she follows up with them on any issues previously discussed, like doctor referrals, paperwork advice or making a plan for future needs. The interaction and personal contact at Information sessions broaden the discussion moving forward.

3:30 p.m.: Once all speakers have presented for the day, Karen is available to delegates who have ideas or questions that have come up throughout the day.  Karen helps with clean up, thanks booth exhibitors, and review event evaluations.  Karen will take suggestions and feedback from the evaluation to plan and improve and the next event.

The Information and Networking Day was a success! All the hard work paid off, and Karen is pleased to assist and connect with a new group of individuals in Sault Ste. Marie.  Karen returned to her hotel room to check on email and voicemail, many from clients from across the province who can use her assistance.  Early the next morning, Karen will travel back to the Toronto area and continue her daily tasks of assisting clients with Services.

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