Grace Niezen hails from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, which is about one hour outside of Toronto . She has undertaken ‘front line’ work with people with disabilities for the past 18 years, including group home work and community work with adults and children who have developmental disabilities.
For 12 years, Grace worked with families to help them coordinate the support they needed to care for their family member with a disability, whether paid workers, volunteers, or out-of-home respite care. In that agency Grace worked as the coordinator of volunteers for several years, and also facilitated ‘support circles’ for teens and young adults.
Grace has served on a number of community committees, including a current ‘Accessibility Advisory Committee’ developed for her region and a national advisory committee for a faith-based mental health and disability program.
For the past 3 years, she has been employed as the Project Coordinator for the ‘Ready...Get Set...Volunteer’ program – a supported volunteering initiative of the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area (http://www.k-wvolcentre.on.ca/rgsv.htm). The program was developed with many community partners, including educators, volunteers and agencies representing different disability groups and has been successful in breaking down many of the barriers faced by volunteers with disabilities.