Some things only happen once in a lifetime! In this second in a series of articles highlighting Community Opportunities, here is a story about a dramatic change in one man’s life. This is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
Could you imagine your life without verbal expression? Or you never leaving the property you live on? I’d like to introduce you to a man I’ve had the privilege to get to know as a friend and co-worker – his name is Terry.
At the age of 52 he was thought to be non-verbal and rarely ever made eye contact. We first met Terry in his home in a habilitation center where he had lived for approximately 30 years. He almost never left the property, working in one building doing the same mundane task all day. At the end of the day he would walk across the parking lot to a home he shared with five other men.
Doesn’t sound very exciting, right?
Well… a couple of years ago Terry’s life got a little more exciting when he got the opportunity to move to Troy where he began his life with Community Opportunities. Terry now has so many opportunities. From the very first day he moved he has experienced incredible life changes that could only happen once in a lifetime. Terry now shares a home with four other gentlemen. He enjoys family style meals with them, as well as watching favorite T.V. shows. They enjoy activities as any other family, like holiday light displays, trips, visits with family members that happen to live close by, shopping, or enjoying ice cream sundaes with friends.
Terry’s has had extraordinary changes in his life. He is a contributor to the community. He volunteers at Lincoln County Council of Aging where he looks forward to delivering Meals-on-Wheels and visiting his friends at the center. Many of the meal recipients have become Terry’s friends, knowing him by name. Terry also volunteers at the Bread for Life Food Pantry and passing out ice water at local nursing homes where he enjoys interacting with the residents.
One of Terry’s favorite past times is people watching and seeing new scenery or places. Terry’s life continues to be enriched with trips to the zoo, Science Center, going to movies, and even the Fox Theatre where he was all smiles watching activities, people, and shows. Wow, what a difference from walking back and forth across the same parking lot!
What would you say if you had been non-verbal for nearly 30 years? Terry has chosen the word “Hey.” For those of us that know him well “Hey” is a very precious word with so much meaning. “Hey” can mean hello, goodbye, I’m really glad to see you, and so much more! Terry’s friends are very excited to see what his next new experiences in life will hold!
If you should see Terry in our community, be sure to smile and tell him “Hey.”