Shining a Spotlight: Jake’s House Community and Connection Program

We’re thrilled to share an inside look into the incredible experiences within our Community and Connection program at Jake’s House, where joy meets purpose through our beloved Holiday Parties in Toronto, Ottawa and London. In this Q&A blog post, we delve into the enchanting world of these festive gatherings that have been bringing people of all ages together and empowering families living with autism for 20 years.

Join us as we hear from a participant whose life has been touched by the magic of these unforgettable parties, and from three dedicated sisters who are volunteers at the heart of these events. Together, let’s unravel the stories, connections, and profound impact that our Jake’s House Holiday Parties bring to those in need.

Family Participant: Sasha, 31yrs, Toronto

Jake’s House has been hosting its Holiday Parties for people of all ages for 20 years. 

“I like being surrounded by people who are going through the same things that I am going through.”

Introducing Sasha: a joyful presence at Jake’s House Holiday Parties in Toronto for the past three years! Her enthusiasm for the festivities, especially the cotton candy station, reflects her infectious joy and love for life. Beyond indulging in sweet treats, Sasha has also embraced the spirit of the Holiday Parties by making new friends and connections, adding warmth and inclusivity to every gathering. Today, we celebrate Sasha’s vibrant presence and the special moments she creates at the Holiday Party, reminding us of the power of shared experiences and connections.

What’s your favourite part about attending the Jake’s House Holiday Party?

The cotton candy machine! Also I like being surrounded by people who are going through the same things that I am going through.

Are there any specific activities or games that you always love participating in?

Well, I can’t go on the jumping castle anymore (laughs), but definitely the colouring station. I like to colour, and I get to spend time with my mother and grandmother there because they also come every year.

Have you made any new friends at the parties? What do you enjoy doing with your friends there?

Yes! I met one friend named Joseph, and he’s pretty funny and likes playing the piano, and also a friend named Serena. I talk to them on Instagram and we have a lot of fun.

Can you tell me about a memorable moment you’ve had at a past Jake’s House Holiday Party?

I actually met another friend named Mark, and we both talk the same language which is Spanish. That was so cool. And of course we went to go get cotton candy!

What are you looking forward to most for this year’s party?

Hanging out with more new people and getting to see my old friends!

Volunteers: Arya, Gia and Rayva, Toronto

Gia (left), Rayva (middle) and Arya (right) have been volunteering at the Jake’s House Holiday Party in Toronto for 7 years.

“We always loved that it was an opportunity for our family to celebrate and appreciate our brother who has autism.”

Meet the dynamic trio that is Arya, Gia and Rayva! For the past seven years, these remarkable siblings have been a helping force behind the heartwarming success of Jake’s House Holiday Parties in Toronto. Their dedication to volunteering at this event stems from a deeply personal connection — they have a brother living with autism. Through their unwavering commitment and boundless compassion, the sisters have not only touched the lives of countless families at the Holiday Party but have also become shining examples of the transformative power of empathy and inclusion.

In this exclusive Q&A, we delve into their inspiring journey, their experiences at Jake’s House, and their thoughts on what makes the Jake’s House Holiday Parties so special.

How long have you been volunteering at the Jake’s House Holiday Party, and what inspired you to do so?

We have been volunteering at Jake’s House for seven years. We always loved that it was an opportunity for our family to celebrate and appreciate our brother who has autism. Seeing him surrounded by other kids with autism, all accepting one another and being their genuine selves.

Can you share a touching or heartwarming experience you’ve had while volunteering at the Holiday Party?

One of the many heartwarming experiences we have at Jake’s House was seeing our brother get called up to get his gift from Santa. The pure light and joy in his eyes, followed by his laughter was the best thing to witness.

Can you describe the atmosphere and energy at the holiday parties?

The atmosphere at the holiday parties is always so welcoming, bright and fun. All of the kids get so excited with the arts and crafts, bouncy castles, and fun snacks. Working at the popcorn stands especially draws in a lot of kids, and it’s very wholesome to see the excitement on their faces as they watch it pop!

How do you think the Holiday Parties positively impact the families and individuals who attend?

The holiday parties positively impact the families and the individuals that attend because they offer the opportunity for them to be themselves and to not worry about being judged by those around them, as everyone in the building has either a shared experienced of interacting with or having a child with autism.

In your opinion, what makes Jake’s House Holiday Parties stand out compared to other charitable events or initiatives?

The Jake’s House Holiday Party is a charity event that stands out from the rest because it is a time and place for young kids and their families to embrace their differences with each other as a whole community. This event highlights and celebrates children with autism, helping them feel welcome with others like just them. Every single child who attends Jake’s House is gifted their own hand-wrapped gift by the staff which is given to them by ‘Santa’ to celebrate the Holiday season. This very considerate approach allows each child to feel special.

Jake’s House also prioritizes having the best staff and volunteers to provide the best service and help to the families attending to assure that they are having the best experience possible. Jake’s House is truly a magical experience for all of the little ones who attend because there is so much passion and thought put into event from the staff who organizes it all.

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