With permission, I am sharing an email from Kathy Wenning. Kathy’s son Joe, is a sophomore at Starfire U and the two of them have been working so diligently for Joe share in the five valued experiences
I responded to Kathy that I want to say “yes!” to everything below. I want to read it at every parent night and to every parent who calls or emails or says that something isn’t possible or who is frustrated, upset, or questioning.
I love all the “maybe there’s…” instead of the “this can’t.” I love the brainstorming and Kathy and Joe being okay (or at least going along with the fact) that some of this is just trial and error. I love that she’s thinking beyond institutions (nursing homes, day programs) and more of being neighborly. I love the “is there…” questions and how the only way to answer them is to find out and experiment.
>Candice Jones wrote:
I hope you are well. I got this on a listserv and thought maybe this would be a good way for Joe to call up someone from the Loveland Theater and connect with them intentionally? Or to go to with some Starfire U friends? See below.
Friday Night Grill Outs [Fridays from 27 May – 2 September @ 5-8pm]:
You can’t beat a tasty grilled meal with all the sides, live music on the dock & great company with friends & family. The grill-out menu features specialty dinners ($8.00-9.25 per person; $3.95 for kids 10 & under). The atmosphere is special, too, with a big dock overlooking Lake Isabella. There will be naturalist programs & local live music @ 6-8pm. Performances thru the summer include Katie Pritchard (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar), Kevin Fox (Acoustic Rock) & Ben Alexander (Acoustic Rock). At Lake Isabella, 10174 Loveland-Madeira Road, Loveland, OH 45140. Hamilton County Park permit is required to enter the park. More info at 513.521.7275 & GreatParks.org.
> From: Kathy Sent: Friday, May 27, 2011 9:46 AM
Subject: Re: Friday Night Grill Outs
That is a great idea for Joe to do the asking/inviting. For some reason I hadn’t considered that. But that is how the rest of us would form relationships isn’t it? I will keep this information and use it when the opportunity arises. The other tactic in making friends is to join organizations – which at least we are making some headway into….
Loveland Stage Company: The auditions for the Loveland Stage Co’s (LSC) children’s workshop were last weekend. I took Joe and he signed up for several of the behind-the-scenes jobs. Right now he seems most interested in ‘hospitality’. We talked with the director who was the back stage director of the last play – she was happy to see Joe again and promised that she would find a job for him. He is excited and looking forward to participating – the production of ‘Mikado’ is mid July. Hopefully Joe can make more connections.
History/re-enactment: I have started looking into the Caesar Creek Pioneer Village: http://www.caesarscreekpioneervillage.org/CCPV/Home.html
I think he would love to volunteer there. Our schedule is pretty full until July – but I plan to have him start volunteering there this summer. From their website they seem very welcoming. We have visited the village when they were demonstrating / re-enacting years ago. It was really exciting for Joe then – I am sure this will be a great experience for him. We will see where it leads.
I was also kicking around some other ideas: Tim wrote something on Joe’s PATH ‘message poster’ that stuck with me. It went sorta like this:
“Joe, There are people out there who need you in their lives.”
That statement seemed really profound. What a powerful, life enriching trait to have – to be needed. To ‘be needed’ is extremely rewarding and seems so basic to a person’s self-worth. Don’t we all need to be needed? To be accepted by others is certainly important. But to be needed by others goes to the next level and way beyond. It fits with the idea of being a ‘pillar of the community’ – being a contributing/worthwhile/necessary member of society. And, aren’t the bonds strongest in relationships when we share a reciprocal need with the other person? I am trying (but not so sure I am succeeding) to convey how important I think it is for Joe to be and feel needed. Anyway, I feel that it is really important to find those people who genuinely need Joe.
Joe once tried volunteering at a nursing home. But it didn’t work out for a couple of reasons. For Joe, the residents weren’t nearly as interesting as the staff and he spent his efforts talking with the staff members instead of the intended residents. I think this happened because the residents were difficult to understand and were not engaging. Also, most of the residents weren’t that interested in getting to know Joe. He was difficult for them to understand and since he was distracted by staff, it was difficult to get conversations going. Joe needed someone he could easily talk with, and the residents didn’t fit that need. And maybe the residents didn’t really need Joe because their lives already included other people (staff and each other) and activities.
So I have a few thoughts floating around: In a Nursing home, I think Joe could possibly contribute by working with the activities coordinator in planning parties / activities. This could lead to connections to the residents over time. And Joe could exercise his idea-generating skills. But I think stronger connections could be made in other places…
Maybe people who are in their own home but aren’t able to get out and about for whatever reason – and who are lonely – would appreciate Joe’s company and or assistance.
Maybe someone who is mentally capable but is physically limited would enjoy Joe’s assistance and company.
Maybe Joe could make a difference spending time with teens or young adults. Joe loves interacting with young adults. Maybe they are ‘shut-ins’ for some reason or they are at a rehab center or recovering from some medical reason or at a center that helps teens in under-privileged circumstances.
Maybe Joe could benefit college students who are pursuing special education certificates in some way.
It would be perfect if Joe could volunteer on his day off (Fridays) somewhere that would help him build relationships with people who need him. If you have any thoughts or possible contacts for any of these ‘ponderings’ please let me know.
Thanks for keeping us in mind!