Today was a wonderful day in the neighborhood. I have been volunteering frequently in the community gardens at my son’s supported community. As I spend more and more time on campus I see more and more how strong and supportive the community is.
Today I had 5 residents from 3 different houses helping fill the watering cans from the rain barrels that have been collecting rain water, planting peas, parsley, carrots, and watering the strawberry plants that we planted last week in the new strawberry field. In addition to this we all sampled several varieties of the tasty greens that we are growing – the favorite is the Ruby Streaks Mustard Greens and the Tatsoi – an Asian green that is crisp and mild.
We then cleaned spruced up some gardens which have a huge dill plant and then weeded around the raspberry plants which are rejuvenating. Next on the list was to water the blueberry grove which also has lots of onions and garlic growing around the perimeter. It’s great that some of the residents have really taken on ownership of these gardens and the watering!
While I was there today I know that residents from two households were going to go to movies – different movies at different theaters and some others were going to go out for dinner. Many were out walking and enjoying the weather and it always amazes me that everyone knows everyone else and they watch out for each other.
I also witnessed a support team call - in this community there is always the opportunity at any moment for a crisis to erupt given the high intensity and support needs of most of the residents here. When a support team call goes out there is extra staff that respond from various houses to the house in need to add extra support to manage whatever crisis has or is occurring. When there is this type of support in a community it alleviates the need to call 911 for police to respond because the staff are familiar with the residents and are trained to manage the types of behaviors which typically cause a crisis.
It is shameful that many people, included those who call themselves advocates for people with developmental disabilities, push to close these supportive communities. One reason they do this is because they are clueless as to the benefits of a supportive community for those who need this level of care. They call these communities ”institutions” because they have not visited recently and have a pre-conceived ideas in their head that if these residents were dispersed, away from their friends and supports, they would be much better off! They use incomplete information to say that the supportive communities are too expensive.
It’s such a shame that those who push to close these supportive communities refuse to visit and refuse to look at complete and accurate data regarding the cost, supports and services – comprehensive and cost effective and SAFE!
I do know that I enjoy spending time at my son’s community. It truly is a “neighborhood” where everyone knows your name!