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CLBA History

  • 1951 to 1956: Babies' Convalescent Home
  • 1956 to 1957:Hastings Mental Health Association, Incorporated
  • 1957 to 1974: Ontario Home for Mentally Retarded Infants, Incorporated
  • 1974 to 2000: Plainfield Children's Home
  • 2000 to 2011:  Plainfield Community Homes

April 2011 to Present: 

Community Living Belleville and Area has provided supports and assistance to people with intellectual disabilities since 1951.

In 1924, Leonard and Leonora Velleman emigrated from Holland and settled in Montreal. In 1951, they moved from Montreal and opened the Babies' Convalescent Home in Plainfield, Ontario, about a half hour drive north of Belleville. In 1952, they acquired the Thrasher Hotel, which was located on Highway #37, slightly south and east of the original house. It was a large farmhouse-type building that had originally served as a stopover on the stagecoach run from Belleville to Tweed.

Leonora had been a nurse in Holland and she was surprised at the Canadian practice at the time of hiding babies with disabilities in attics and pantries or allowing them to starve to death or dehydrate. In Europe, they had just been through a somewhat comparable time with the Nazis and she felt North America was wrong to continue such an attitude. When people with intellectual or physical disabilities did survive babyhood up to that time, they were often housed in prisons or asylums and, in some provinces and states, sterilized by law. The Babies' Convalescent Home continued until 1956 as a privately-run business funded solely by the parents of the residents.

In 1956, the home changed its name to the Hastings Mental Health Association, Incorporated.

In 1957, when the province of Ontario officially recognized the rights of these children to be cared for as "human beings." At that time, the home became known as the Ontario Home for Mentally Retarded Infants, Incorporated with a substantial input of government funding through the Ministry of Health. Private contributions and parental support were still essential, but expansion was underway as demand for the service increased dramatically. Expansion of the home continued over the years.

In 1974, the name was changed to Plainfield Children's Home and, as a result of the Developmental Services Act, the organization was funded 85 per cent by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

In 1984, the Ontario government increased its commitment through the Child and Family Services Act and a document called, "Challenges and Opportunities", which was a seven-year plan to establish a community-based service and to strengthen supports for families. The people who were living in the original facility were gradually moved out into supported homes in the community, and the original building in Plainfield, Ontario was used for Day Options. That year, the organization changed its name to Plainfield Community Homes.

In April 2011, Community Living Belleville and Area was incorporated.

In March 2017, Plainfield Community Homes and Community Living Belleville and Area were amalgamated into one corporation, namely Community Living Belleville and Area.

In September, 2021, Community Living Belleville and Area celebrated its 70th Anniversary.