I just want to take a few minutes to give you an update on the progress of my brother-in-law, Patrick, and express appreciation for all that you and your team are doing to assist Patrick in his journey going forward.
As we were talking the other night, it became apparent that Patrick is progressing in his communication skills and his love for your programs at Opportunity Village. We discussed three topics:
1. What he likes best – that is meeting people and being around others. Patrick was living a very secluded life and to our enjoyment he has expressed several times that he likes working with other people and he enjoys visiting with the other workers at lunch. Although not a very talkative person, Patrick is a good listener and his engagement with the other workers has helped him increase his communication skills at home. Patrick also enjoys being greeted by the bus drivers each day when he gets on the bus. I know it sound like such a small thing but every day a bus driver says, “Good Morning” or “Hello, Patrick, how are you today?” and that makes him feel good because he knows there are others outside of his immediate family circle who care about him – actually, I think that’s a big reason he’s enjoying meeting other people so much, he realizes that others do care.
2. Are you getting better at your current job – Patrick tells me he is getting better, cutting straighter and improving his time or should I say, the time it takes to cut each cleaning cloth. I believe Patrick gets his own feedback because he can see for himself what kind of job he is doing and can measure the amount he is doing by looking at his own production. This is benefitting him because he is able to “measure his worth” and has a reason to feel he is contributing to the community. He has said a couple of times he feels his job is important because it helps someone at the hotel do a better job cleaning using his towels he’s cut up. I’m very happy he understands this concept, it has improved his self worth and given him pride in himself and made him want to work. Patrick has also expressed a desire to learn other jobs so he can be trained in other areas for future responsibility – this is a huge concept of understanding on his part and makes my wife and me really happy because we would like him to take on a little more responsibility for his individual care and chores at home.
3. Supervisors, how are you doing being supervised – please understand the importance of your supervisors at Opportunity Village and the role they play in our home. I believe it was in 1982 that Patrick’s parents tried to get him involved in the “work” system for the handicapped, however, Patrick had a large problem with people telling him what to do and frankly, my wife and I were very concerned with this aspect of the training and employment. Patrick’s mom and dad pulled him out of a program in 1982 because he was frustrated and they felt sorry for him. Perhaps Patrick has mellowed with age or now realizes the importance of listening to others and doing a good job but whatever the reason, Patrick has stated he likes his supervisor and his supervisor is nice. In fact, just last night Patrick said, “my supervisor isn’t a baby sitter, it’s not the supervisor’s job to babysit us, we have to do a good job on our own.” I kept trying to find out where that was coming from and according to Patrick, he came up with the concept on his own – yep, it’s 28 years later but somehow, this time, the concept of work and doing a good job has taken hold and I believe it’s because of the patience and kindness of the supervisors and managing staff Opportunity Village. When Patrick comes home he’s happy, he doesn’t complain about the work, his supervisor or act out in frustration which makes our home life a lot better than what we were anticipating.
Thank you for being there. Thank you to the sponsors for giving my brother-in-law an “OPPORTUNITY” Village experience. I realize the expense involved with the program and I realize the goodness of others who are financially supportive of the program. Their generosity is greatly appreciated but more importantly, their generosity is making a difference in my brother-in-law’s life and our life at home with him.
My great nephew, Steven, is now attending Opportunity Village and working at the Ralph and Betty Engelstad Campus. He is there because the Engelstad family started a scholarship program for people like Steven. In the time since Steven started, his self-esteem has improved dramatically. He looks forward to going to work every day. He feels that he is a part of something and feels good about himself. He has always been quiet, but now he carries on conversations in detail advising us of his day to day activities.
My sincere thanks to Opportunity Village and the Engelstad family for this most needed program. You have touched Steven’s life.