Attendant Saves Lives Of 42 "Group Home" Residents
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 27, 2004
TORONTO, ONTARIO--Because of the quick thinking of Blossom Vallee, all of the residents of a three-story building were saved from a 3:00 a.m. fire last Thursday.
Vallee was the only paid attendant in the building, which housed 42 people with mental disabilities, when the fire alarm sounded.
Vallee, 34, ran through the three floors and basement, banging on doors and yelling to alert the residents and direct them out of the building.
All but one escaped without any problems. That one survived but was in the hospital in critical condition Friday because of smoke inhalation.
Vallee's actions were detailed in a Toronto Star story entitled, "Hero saves 42 in group home".
But, wait just a minute.
Since when is a building housing 42 people a "group home"?
In my experience, group homes, which are falling out of favor in most of the world because of their size, are much, much smaller than that.
That headline also caught the eye of Keith Powell, Executive Director of Toronto's Community Living.
"This isn't a home and the 42 people living in it are not living in the community," Powell wrote in a letter to the editor.
"This is no more than an institution within the community. How can a building holding three-and-a-half dozen people even be called a 'home?'" he added.
"The vulnerability of these 42 individuals has little to do with their disabilities and a lot to do with how we as a community have responded to their needs. It is up to us as a community of citizens to find a way to embrace and support these 42 fellow citizens so that they can truly be active and valued members of the community we share with them."