SCIO Community Magazine
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Charles Camilleri

Let’s Hang Out (When we can.)

Charles Camilleri was born in Mosta, Malta, and, in December 1955, when he was 10, his family immigrated to Canada.

From an early age, Charles was engaged in the community, delivering newspapers and flyers, and working in a bowling alley. He was an altar boy at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, volunteered at bingos and rented time at the local YMCA to organize family social evenings, playing volleyball, basketball and floor hockey.

Due to serious health issues, operations and procedures since the age of 21, Charles has limited movement and, since 2003, has used a powered wheelchair. However, his disability did not stop him from being active in the community. He was inspired by Rick Hansen, as he too is driven by a passionate desire to make a difference.

Charles looks at his disability as the ability to simply do things differently and lives by his motto, Please Aspire to Inspire before we Expire.

Over the past 17 years, Charles organized indoor bocce games for seniors, taught chess at the library, helped with hosting Winterfest for the City of Vaughan and sat on the Accessibility Advisory Committee, advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Among his many community contributions, he co‐founded the Hangin’ Out Together program with Maria DiCenso. Maria’s son, Anthony, was involved in a car accident at the age of 15, which left him with an injury that required the use of a wheelchair for mobility. Anthony attended a program in Maple that was expensive and non‐stimulating (and required payment even when he did not attend). After he stopped attending the program, Maria approached Charles and told him her story. Charles was committed to finding a solution, which was the birth of Hangin’ Out Together. It’s a free social drop‐in and excursions program for people with disabilities. Excursions have included Ripley’s Aquarium, Niagara Falls Butterfly Observatory, Bird Sanctuary, 30,000 Islands cruise from Penetanguishine, McMichael’s Art Gallery, Reptillia and Splitsville Bowling. Program participants support each other. In 2018 and 2019, three members each received a cheque of $1,000 to deal with the challenges in their lives.

Charles has received many awards for his volunteer work from the mayor of Vaughan, The Hon. Maurizio Bevilacqua. In 2017, he was presented with the Community Leader Award by Francesco Sorbara, MP Vaughan‐Woodbridge. On September 16, 2019, Charles was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by the Governor General, which recognizes the remarkable volunteer achievements of Canadians who demonstrate a caring dedication and exemplary commitment to helping others. Charles received a certificate of appreciation from the Vaughan‐Woodbridge PC MPP Hon. Michael Tibollo and from Premier Doug Ford.

Charles looks at his disability as the ability to simply do things differently and lives by his motto, Please Aspire to Inspire before we Expire.

Days & Times: Tuesdays and Fridays 10 am – 1 pm mid‐September to mid‐June
Members: 16 years of age and older
Location: Father Ermanno Bulfon Community Centre
Address: 8141 Martin Grove Rd. Woodbridge, Ontario
Maria DiCenso at 416‐902‐7107 or email [email protected]
Contact: Charles Camilleri at 416‐904‐6171 or email [email protected]

By Sara Camilleri | Spring 2020

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