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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: WWWE: Six Years of Hope - Part II

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WWWE: Six Years of Hope - Part II

I'll just pick up where I left off last time. I had been talking about one of the group homes I worked in. I worked in four homes altogether throughout my six years at Hope Enterprises, but I spent the first three years working at the house I've been talking about.

Each of the guys I took care of all attended a day program where they did different activities throughout the day to keep them busy so they weren't just sitting at home all the time. We would regularly have outings in the evenings as well. We'd take them to things like softball games, restaurants, Dairy Queen, the park, and other places like that.

Sometimes we would get nasty looks from people when we took the guys out. Unfortunately, older generations were told when they were young that if they had a child with mental retardation that they should just lock them up in the attic or basement because they have no feelings and feel no pain. This is so far from the truth and it's unfortunate that people actually believed these things. I know from experience that individuals with mental retardation do feel pain, and they do have feelings. In fact I think that they understand more about love than any of us so-called "normal" people could ever know.

On the other hand, many times when we took the guys out for dinner people would come up to us who were working and tell us how much they appreciate what we do. I always heard people tell me that it takes a special kind of person to do that job and that they could never do anything like that. I just tell them, give it a try, there's really nothing special about me that allows me to do this job, you just kind of do it.

Near the end of my first three years at Hope some bad things happened. One Sunday morning I got a call. It was my manager, he told me that John* passed away in his sleep. I was scheduled to work that day, I knew it was going to be hard. When I went in to work my other co-workers were sitting at the kitchen table talking about John and remembering him. Some of the girls I worked with taught him how do dance and sing "Shake Your Booty". His favorite song that he liked to sing was "You Are My Sunshine". I still think of him every time I hear that song.

Not even two weeks later a new resident moved in. I wished they would have let more time pass, we weren't ready for someone to move into John's old room. Then not too long after that our manager was fired. When the new manager came she decided that she needed new staff so those of us who had been working there together for the past three years and had formed a solid team and were like family were scattered and transferred to work in different group homes. We were all happy where we were and that was all over.

Sorry to end this one on such a downer, but it was one of the hardest times of my life. It really was like a family separating. I held a grudge and felt very bitter and angry at the new manager for a long time. Then as if things weren't bad enough she started coming to my church a few years later. It was awkward. We would say hi to each other and talk a little bit, but never brought up what happened years earlier. Then one day after church she pulled me aside and said she had to talk to me in private. She poured her heart out apologizing to me for what happened a few years ago. She said she was a different person then and a day hasn't gone by where she hasn't regretted what she did. I forgave her, but I also had to ask for her forgiveness. I didn't like it when she came and changed everything at work. I thought of her as a tyrant and a dictator. So I asked for her forgiveness and she forgave me as well.

There will be more to this story later. I will talk about the other group homes I've worked in.

*Just a reminder, I didn't use the real names of the people I've been talking about.

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