Janet Klees has been involved in the lives of people with disabilities, their families, and allies in community for over 30 years. Until September, she had been coordinator with the family-governed Deohaeko Support Network for 20 years – almost from its beginnings when families designed and built a 105-unit housing co-operative which seven of their sons and daughters with disabilities now call home, and from where they live typical and full lives in community. Janet has been deeply affected by the lives of the people with disabilities and their families that she has come to know within that group and through other life experiences.
She is the author of three books which are directly rooted in the Deohaeko experience, (We Come Bearing Gifts; Our Presence has Roots; Deohaeko Decades) and which are now sold around the world to present the unique options of this family group.
Janet has recently taken on the role of Executive Director with a family support organization, the Durham Association for Family Respite Services with hopes of sharing learning with a wider group of families in Durham Region.
Janet’s work centers on individually-designed arrangements and she is especially concerned that families are well-supported to think through practical, principled ways to ensure that their family members live meaningful, involved and secure lives within their communities. Janet helps people to focus on individually-designed arrangements for one person at a time, kept rich and secure through a focus on people holding valued and contributing social roles, finding places of belonging in their communities, and having a range of relationships that provide richness and safeguarding in their lives. Most of Janet’s ideas arise from strong day-to-day practice.