Posted on: June 29, 2016 | Posted by: Sarah Bystrom
The tan house with green trim at the corner of Sunset and Vine is more than just four walls and a roof. It was home to many people throughout the years, myself included.
Moving from a family home always elicits tears, both happy and sad, as well as reflections on the milestones, growth and memories that occurred inside those walls, and Vine is no exception to this. As a past direct support professional, program manager and current case manager who spent countless hours at Vine, it was bittersweet when the people we supported at the home—which was nestled into a cozy neighborhood in Fort Collins, Colorado—moved out the spring of 2016.
I just finished hugging and saying my goodbyes to Victor who is the last gentleman to move out. I am sitting at the dining room table now where countless family meals were shared as well as art projects and laughter. I cannot help but to smile a bit thinking about the time that Andrew, Victor, Ben and I were sitting at this table building a gingerbread house. Grumbles ensued as all Andrew wanted was the box from the gingerbread kit and I could not open it fast enough and evacuate the contents so that he could have the box. Victor and Ben were in intense competition over who could place the candy on the house faster, thus decorating more of the house than the other person to obtain full bragging rights and ownership. Sam, as always, was sitting at the top of the stairs laughing, singing and egging on the spat.
Every place in this home holds memories. I am looking at the couch by the mantel thinking about the time I had my broken foot propped up on the arm of that couch to keep my toes from swelling. While my foot was propped Victor came and sat on the couch and looked at my foot. I got a bit nervous as I did not want him to accidentally bump me and was getting ready to move my leg away from him. Victor carefully grabbed my foot and drew it into his lap and proceeded to rub and pat my cast. It was that moment I knew that I was not just at work, I was home and I was loved.
I can see through the living room window that the tulips Sam and I planted six years ago are beginning to bloom. It is a rare occurrence to see tulips in the yard for very long because as soon as a flower appeared, Sam would pick it. He would put the flower on his nose and inhale so deeply that when he took the tulip away from his face, there would be yellow pollen all over the tip of nose. Sam would then finish picking the rest of the tulips, put them in water and give them to someone as a present or place them on the table as a centerpiece.
These are a few of the memories that I hold dear. Vine will always have a special place in my heart. I grew so much as a person and as a worker in this field. I learned things about myself that I am not sure I would have recognized without having been a member of this family. These gentlemen helped me to break through the barriers that I had built around myself so that I could live a more fulfilling life. They showed me that my perceived flaws and social awkwardness were nothing more than a quirky nuance and taught me how to embrace my oddities unabashedly in the same way that I did for them. When advocating for them in in their daily lives, I learned that I too needed to have similar confidence when speaking for myself. I stepped into Vine thinking that I was here to assist the gentlemen, but it was them who God put in my life to help me.
As I prepare to close the door behind me for the last time I cannot help the tears or sadness I feel, but I take comfort in knowing that all of the gentlemen are safe in their new homes. I am forever grateful to God for leading me here and allowing me to be a part of the family at West Vine Drive.
Bethesda discontinued group home services in Fort Collins, Colorado, late last year. However, Bethesda is staying in Fort Collins. We continue to provide intermittent supports, day services and host home services in this community.
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