Man able to achieve dreams thanks to support from Community Living

By Sarah Ferguson, Fort Erie Times

Jacob Doan has autism but he isn't defined by his disorder.

The 21-year-old Lakeshore Catholic High School graduate works a part-time job in the cart shop at Cherry Hill Golf Course in Ridgeway during the summer months.

It’s a job Jacob said he enjoys doing because he loves a variety of sports, including golf.

Stephen Barkley, an associate golf professional at the golf club, described Jacob as a “model employee” and “very independent.”

“Jacob is a go-getter who is knowledgeable about golf and all sports,” he said.

“We’re happy to have him.”

When he isn’t working at the golf club, Jacob also holds down a job at the Fort Erie YMCA performing maintenance duties.

Jacob is working hard to achieve goals he has set for himself; he’s taking driver’s education classes and plans to take his road test soon. He also plans to save enough money to be able to rent his own apartment, and eventually, he would like to design his own video game.

He has been able to do all of these things with encouragement from his family and friends, as well as support from Community Living Fort Erie.

“Community Living has helped me in a lot of ways,” Jacob said. “I’m definitely active in the community because of them.”

When Jacob was diagnosed with autism as an infant, his parents were in shock and realized they needed some help and guidance.

That’s when Community Living came to their rescue. The non-profit organization provides advocacy and support for individuals who have intellectual challenges and their families.

“We were assigned a case manager and immediately the process began. We were connected with all of the right agencies, programs, services and doctors we would need to get the ball rolling,” Jacob’s mom, Sue Doan, said.

“During all the extensive testing, the meetings and the piles of paperwork, our case manager was always there for us.”

Thanks to the services Jacob Doan accessed through the non-profit organization, which include camps, programs, and activities, he became a part of the Fort Erie community.

“Jacob’s successes in the community have given him the confidence to achieve so much academically and socially…more than we ever could have expected,” Sue said.

It wasn’t always easy for Jacob on his journey to become the independent man he is today, his mom says.

“He faced different challenges growing up. He didn’t always want to be around people. He was non-verbal until about five years old and he didn’t like to be touched.”

Sue said early intervention is key for children that have an intellectual disability, and often times, it’s important for parents to act as advocates for their children.

“It’s important to have a diagnosis, to accept that it is there and find out what is out there in the community to help,” she said.

“Look to Community Living Fort Erie and work with them. We are so lucky to have them here.”

Jacob said he wanted to share his journey to serve as inspiration for families that have a loved one with an intellectual disability.

“We want to people to know that their loved ones (with an intellectual disability) can have a bright future and Community Living is a driving force behind that,” Sue added.

The Doans said they encourage everyone to learn more about how Community Living Fort Erie helps families.

The non-profit organization is holding its annual holiday fundraiser on Nov. 19 at the Fort Erie Leisureplex. This year’s theme is Christmas in Mexico, and the event is the agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

For more information about Community Living Fort Erie visit  

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