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Our Presence Has Roots - Paperback

Janet Klees, Deohaeko Support Network

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Our Presence Has Roots

The Ongoing Story of Deohaeko Support Network

Janet Klees

       For the first book in this series go to We Come Bearing Gifts


"Being rooted in community is all about belonging – the eternal human quest that gives life meaning and value. We have come to see that in some situations belonging does not just happen; the pathway to belonging needs to be rebuilt."

This is the ongoing story of what an active and committed group of ordinary families can achieve for, and with, their adult sons and daughters who have a developmental disability.

This 366-page book is the account of the past eight years of Deohaeko Support Network. The many stories, examples, and quotations throughout the book ensure that the content remains relevant and interesting to families, service providers, and anyone in the community services field. As well, this book will appeal to all those interested in building thoughtful, welcoming communities and neighbourhoods. 

At the heart of this book is the belief that relationships (more than services, programs, or financial resources) will best safeguard the lives of people with disabilities over time. Through stories and analysis of proven strategies, this book speaks directly to family, friends, and community builders of all kinds as it outlines ways to think about, invite, welcome and nourish relationship in the lives of people with disabilities. Its chapters describe a context from which the opportunity for relationship may thrive, including the importance of place (home, the housing co-operative, the wider community), of holding valued social roles in community, and of being present with other typical citizens with good support. Building this context becomes the work of people with disabilities and their allies. Our presence has roots also details the family group's work and thinking about building supports and safeguards that will ensure good futures for their sons and daughters. A written set of guiding principles, detailed sections on effective coordinator and supporter roles, and an honest accounting of the uncertainties of the future provide readers with much to think about, adapt for their own situation, and build on in other contexts.

Rooted in the garden of lived experiences and shared stories (an analogy used by the author in this beautiful book), Janet Klees reveals to us in thoughtful detail the fundamental principles and values that have guided the processes for people to live well in their own homes and in community. The book will serve as an "essential read" for anyone striving to be with people who otherwise would be marginalized. Our Presence Has Roots takes us to "a place of hope – where in the middle of imperfection – potential runs deep and possibility strong." [quote from a poem by Janet] - Peter Dill, Teacher, Mentor and Community Leader

Deohaeko is an unusually principled small group of families and people with disabilities who have created and govern their own person centred, socially inclusive supports that essentially enables each person and family to design and oversee their own unique "supports" solution and personal lifestyle. The quality of what they have produced is quite impressive. It is their lengthy and principled track record and experience that is instructive, as they have been doing this for years, and have largely remained faithful to very high principles. I would not want to put them on a pedestal, or suggest that they live in an easy world, as this would be a discredit to how hard all this has been for them. Nonetheless, it is hard to point to a group anywhere that would have done better with these challenges than they have. - Michael J. Kendrick Ph.D., International Consultant and Writer

366 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches, ISBN 1-55307-017-8, $25 paperback

Table of Contents


Section 1 Cultivating the Soil

Chapter 1: An Update

Chapter 2: Philosophy at the Foundation

Section 2 A Growing Sense of Belonging

Chapter 3: Home is the First Place

Chapter 4: Tending to Relationship

Chapter 5: A Greater Sense of Place

Section 3 Tools, Strategies, Ideas to Work the Soil

Chapter 6: How People Live Their Lives

Chapter 7: Building a Context for Relationship

Chapter 8: Supportive Allies

Section 4 Over Wintering in Preparation for the Spring Ahead

Chapter 9: Safeguarding 

Chapter 10: Dancing in the Garden of Life

Postscript – In Gratitude