Special needs workshop feels appreciated in Neguac area — and vice versa

Atelier Beausoleil, in operation since 1974, has seen a shift in community acceptance

Clients at Atelier Beausoleil roll pennies and extract copper for spending money during outings.

Clients at Atelier Beausoleil roll pennies and extract copper for spending money during outings. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

When Atelier Beausoleil began to focus on the individual needs of its clients, and their integration into the Fairisle and Neguac community, the workshop started to see change–both in the community and in clients.

Atelier Beausoleil, founded in 1974, is a government–funded centre for adults with special needs. The workshop is housed in an old school building in Fairisle, near Neguac.

“Twenty–five years ago, we were going into the community, we used to have faces and different looks,” said Lola Rousselle, director of Atelier Beausoleil.

“But now we go into the community with the clients, and we are so welcome.”

When Rousselle started at the atelier, some clients had eight “crises” a day. Now, “it’s very rare.”

Jobs of all kinds

susanne robichaud

Susanne Robichaud wraps napkins and utensils as part of a work contract with local restaurants. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

The workshop has contracts with several businesses in Neguac, including two restaurants.

“I count napkins and put them in a box,” said Susanne Robichaud, at work on one of the contracts.

The clients at Atelier Beausoleil wrap rubber elastics around plastic forks, knives and napkins, to be used by hungry diners.

In the downstairs wood shop, other clients sand stocking–shaped pieces of wood. Upstairs, stockings are painted red and green, and monogrammed according to Christmas orders.

Some clients volunteer in the community. Susanne Robichaud cleans at a daycare in Neguac. She has also secured outside employment at the local Tim Hortons.

lola rousselle

Lola Rousselle, who has worked at Atelier Beausoleil for 25 years, says she has seen a drastic reduction in client crises as a result of community integration. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

“To see the smile on their face when they go to work, it’s amazing,” said Jeanne Breau, an intervention counsellor. “And they don’t like to miss a day at the job.”

An annual banquet, held in April, showcases Atelier Beausoleil’s work in the community.

“They appreciate every single thing that you do,” said Rousselle of her clients.

Last year, for the first time ever, the banquet was sold out. The community, it seems, appreciates them right back.

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