Melvin Chonkolay is part of a large family from High Level AB. His life was changed drastically at the age of seven, when he took a fall while ice skating and never fully recovered from his injuries.
Lenora Watson, Residential Worker for the Association, has known Melvin for years. She says that he inherits his musical talent from his Mom. “Melvin recognizes the instruments right away when he hears music.” When he was young, Melvin learned to play the harmonica, guitar and the violin. He was also a church choirboy and his family always listened to music in the home.
Despite his limited vision, Melvin likes to spend time sewing handkerchiefs into pockets for pennies, which he collects and trades. He checks out each penny up for trade by feeling along the edges to find out if they are smooth or rough. Melvin prefers the smooth pennies and will not trade for U.S. pennies, keeping his collection purely Canadian. So far Melvin has collected several homemade penny pockets full.
Melvin used to ride at the Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society (PARDS) but now he spends his time grooming horses rather than riding. He makes sure he brings a few carrots along to feed to the horses. Melvin is an animal lover and sometimes petsits for “Pumpkin,” a cat owned by Residential Coordinator Tammy Ouellette. Melvin keeps his bird “Sparrow” in his room at the group home. Sometimes Sparrow chirps so loudly that the whole house can hear him.
Melvin works half days at New Generations, the Association’s used clothing store. In his spare time he is happy to keep busy with his collections and his daily afternoon coffee routine with roommate Jim Ulmer, a friend he refers to as “Old Ulmer.”