Opening your home and family life to an individual is one of the greatest gifts you can give
The home was warm, cheerful, and filled with family history, with photos and mementos covering the walls and side tables. There were old, framed family portraits, candid snapshots of vacations, and more recent pictures that included Joey. Shelby and Toby, the family dogs, circled our legs, letting out small barks that let us know we were in their home. It was a welcoming and comfortable place to be.
It was a cold, bright January day in the northern Connecticut town when we stopped in for a scheduled visit with Community Companion Home (CCH) providers, Loretta, George, and Joey, the 56-year-old man they had been caring for since about 2004.
We sat and chatted for a while, waiting for Joey to be dropped off from his job at the local police barracks. Before long, a white van pulled up to the house and Joey was home. The dogs were at the door before he was, barking cheerfully for him, and he came in with a beaming smile. George and Loretta were just as happy to see him. There was an easy comfort in the way they interacted, and they settled into their afternoon routine. Joey greeted the dogs and sat down with us at the table where George served him his snack of fruit salad with whipped cream.
The conversation continued to flow as we talked about Joey’s day and what he did at work. The officers gave him important responsibilities and we could tell by his enthusiasm, how rewarding it was for him. The police all knew Joey well and clearly enjoyed having him as part of their crew. Being part of a group that embraced and involved him was enriching and provided daily structure and engagement: he had a purpose outside the home. Halloween was particularly fun for him, and Loretta shared a funny photo of him in costume at a party last fall.
Loretta and George spoke about what a gift Joey’s presence was for them. In addition to their own children and grandchildren who lived all around the country—near and far—Joey was someone whom they got to interact with each day. In fact, he had lived with them for the past 16 years. They considered him like a son and their children felt he was like a brother.
Before Joey entered their lives, the couple had opened their home and hearts to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the past 30 years. At one point, they had three individuals sharing their home. The caregiving extended beyond their immediate family: Loretta’s sister had been the inspiration for becoming a CCH provider and now their children were preparing to open their homes to individuals.
Loretta and George are just one example of ideal CCH providers. They are kind, patient, generous-of-spirit, and have made better the lives of many individuals who have been part of their lives.
To explore the opportunity and learn about the many benefits of becoming a CCH provider, please contact us here: wdlt.org