Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Friends

This week, for a couple of reasons, I am grateful to lean into a guest writer for my Monday Morning work related email. We have friends from England staying with us, and our focus has been on enjoying their company to the full; and secondly, my head has been spaced out from medication related to an unexpected dental procedure! 

So here is a true story with names changed, written by Elaine Day, a direct support professional who works for our organization.

Before turning the blog post over to Elaine though, I want to applaud the staff involved for the elements behind this story of a blossoming friendship between two people with developmental disabilities. The staffs' work shows sensitivity; inspiration; creativity; facilitation skills and caring; helping to fulfill our Christian Horizons' Vision Statement:

People with exceptional needs belong to communities in which their God-given gifts are valued and respected.

Relationships often don't just happen. A little help can make all the difference between loneliness and belonging--and bring a smile to the lips of someone who rarely shows that much emotion. That's enough from me--now over to Elaine--with thanks!

It doesn't matter how much people love their jobs, we all look forward to time off. It’s an opportunity to see family and friends, relax; perhaps, enjoy a meal at a restaurant, a movie, or a sporting event. For most of us, this requires only minor planning, a phone call or perhaps an email.
For some of the people we support, it may not be that simple. They may not have family involved in their lives or their family lives too far to visit on a regular basis. Although they may attend day programs, for the most part, they interact with these peers only during the week. 
This was the situation for one of the people I support. Sam has lived in an institution, a Christian Horizons group home, shared an apartment and now has his own apartment. Sam is well past retirement age but eagerly looks forward to attending his day program three days a week. He gets his groceries and does laundry on Monday and Tuesday.
On Sunday, Sam enjoys going to church with staff and peers. The afternoons, however, can be very long for him. After chatting about Sam’s situation with a staff who works at the group home and in the SIL (supported independent living) where Sam is supported, we came up with an idea we shared with Sam and someone who lives at the group home. We wondered if, every other Sunday, they would like to get together for lunch and a movie. Yes, they both said, they certainly would.

The first week, Sam went to the group home and he supplied the movie and refreshments and enjoyed lunch with Rose, who also finds Sunday afternoons very long.

At their last get-together, Rose joined Sam for lunch at his apartment, prepared by Sam, with assistance. They chose the movie they wanted to watch (from Sam’s collection) and staff made popcorn. At the end of the movie they decided they would like to watch another movie and so it became a double feature afternoon. 
Later in the week, Sam returned from his day program clutching an envelope. (The taxi Sam takes to his day program picks him up and drops him off at Rose’s home). Sam held onto the envelope while he watched television before dinner. Eventually he opened the envelope and inside was a brightly colored “Happy Easter” card. Rose had colored on the inside and a staff, whose handwriting I did not recognize, thanked Sam on Rose’s behalf.Sam was grinning from ear to ear. He held the card until well after dinner and then put it on his dresser so he can see it when he is in his room. 
Sam and Rose remain very happy with their Sunday afternoon get-togethers. It appears to be a win win situation for all involved. Staff at one location are supporting fellow staff from another location, a very thoughtful staff helped Rose choose a card which made Sam smile, which he doesn't do very often.

Best of all Sam and Rose each made a friend.

As Judith Viorst has written “Friends broaden our horizons (and) enhance our self esteem because they think we’re OK”

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