“Home” has multiple connotations during the Coronavirus crisis. With people following stay-at-home orders across the country, we’re inside our homes perhaps more than we’d like, but we are grateful for their comfort and safety. That’s why it’s particularly inspiring that John G. moved into his dream home on March 25th – just as the pandemic and social distancing were ramping up.
John, who is now in his 50s, was born with a cognitive impairment. He grew up in Brockton, where “The Mayor of Brockton” could often be found walking around town, chatting with neighbors, and visiting the local coffee shops. Over his lifetime, John has been assisted by many organizations. He lived by himself at one point, but the agency he was working with realized he needed more support, so he was moved into a group home. While living there, John fell down the stairs and sustained a brain injury. He contracted pneumonia while recuperating at the hospital and was not expected to pull through, but he managed to beat it. John was then moved into a nursing home where he spent much of last year recovering.
This past fall John was referred to Riverside Community Care by the Department of Developmental Services, and Holly Pyne, Riverside’s Director of Shared Living and Individual Support South, had an idea. She thought John would be a perfect candidate for Shared Living, where he would live in a home with a member of the community. Debra Latham has known John for years. She worked at an organization that supported him when he was in his 20s and grew attached. Because John has no family in the picture, since then she’s been John’s steady advocate – keeping in touch with him regularly and making sure he is receiving proper care.
This March 25th, Deb and John gathered his belongings from the nursing home, and they moved him into Deb’s home. For now, the weekly Riverside check-ins are done over zoom rather than in-person, but Holly reports John is acclimating beautifully and seems extremely content.
Says Deb, “My family and I are so grateful and blessed to have John as part our ’tribe,’ as we like to call it. My heart was overwhelmed with love and joy when he walked through the front door yelling ‘I’m Home!’ John is passing his time by helping with our dog, Minnie, bird watching, being the landscaping foreman as we plan our backyard garden projects, and most importantly singing at our daily Karaoke sessions!”
“I’m grateful to be given my new life with my new family! I am somewhere that I’m loved and cared for. I got a second chance at life! I also get to be with my new dog, Minnie, too,” says John.
When the stay-at-home orders have been lifted, expect to see John out walking and chatting with the workers at Dunkin Donuts. He may soon be elected the “Mayor” once again!