The move to St. Davids has worked better than could ever have been expected for Kyle Verhulst.
Born with Down syndrome, Kyle is fairly independent and self-sufficient. His parents were worried he would miss his life in Windsor when they moved to Cannery Park. However, today, he is proud to be considered a member of the team at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, just a short walk from his home in St. Davids.
When Ravine’s Paul Harber heard the 36-year-old was looking for meaningful work, he offered him a place at the winery, gardening, and cleaning tables on the patio. Verhulst loves both jobs, and now, as winter approaches, Harber will find him work inside for the winter, likely in the new conference centre. But mostly Verhulst loves the interaction with the other staff members. He’s a joker, and they like to kid around with him while he works.
And he can walk to work, which is more than his mother Dianna could have expected or hoped for, she says.
Thanks to Harber, Verhulst has found another direction for his time and talents.
He had a full drum kit in his Windsor home, but when his parents downsized, he also downsized, to bongo drums.
He has now earned a place with Momentum Choir, which Dianna learned about from Harber.
When Kyle learned about the choir, and the fact that it has some drummers — he doesn’t sing — he auditioned, and since September has been one of eight bongo players.
“Paul’s so encouraging. He’s been so good with Kyle,” Dianna says.
The choir for special needs adults is in its 12th season of performing. Dianna says every time she takes Kyle to a practice, she is amazed at how professional the choir sounds, as a result of artistic director Mendelt Hoekstra’s extremely kind and patient, but also very disciplined, approach to its members, she says.
“He is so kind. He expects professionalism, but never with an unkind word. He is so encouraging and his heart is unbelievably big. He demands a lot from the choir, but they love him.”
The next performance of Momentum Choir is Beginning to See the Light, at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m.
Please purchase tickets at www.firstontariopac.com or at the Peanut Mill in St. Catharines.