May 16, 2014 0 Share

Giving Back

Elderly woman receiving meal from young man.

Cody continues to do well in his day program. Staff members are able to keep him engaged in activities throughout the entire day, which is commendable as no other provider has ever achieved that. And now they have ramped up his community involvement. Cody is now volunteering his time by helping the staff members deliver meals to homebound residents in the area. And he loves it.

Cody started by riding with a staff member and one or two other clients who were interested in helping with this kind of work. Cody loves car rides so this was right up his alley. Their route is pre-planned and they go to the same houses each time. Even though he didn’t get out of the car at first, it still gave him a chance to become familiar with the names of the streets and which house was on each street. And little by little his enthusiasm began to blossom. After several weeks he began going with the staff to the residents’ doors.

At first he wouldn’t say much to the residents, but then he began to greet them. Short greetings then turned into short conversations. Soon he was actually carrying the tote and helping staff take the meals out to give to the residents.

Staff members have been thrilled about the progress Cody has been making. He is learning the value of giving to the community and he beams with pride because he knows he has had a part in helping someone else.

There have been a few hurdles to overcome however.

I previously mentioned that Cody doesn’t really like small dogs that bark a lot. In spite of their small size they tend to be very loud. The noise is just too overwhelming for Cody and has often sends him into panic mode. As it happens, one of the residents to whom he delivers meals happens to have just such a dog.

As Cody and a staff member approached the door on a recent visit, the resident was there waiting for them and so was her dog. It was yipping and yapping up a storm. This caused Cody to bear hug the staff member and then he began turning her in circles while he shouted, “Oh no, no, no, no, no, no!”

The staff member was caught off guard by Cody’s response to the animal for a few seconds but then began reassuring him that things were OK. The resident was a bit shocked as well at seeing a full grown young man become so unnerved by her pint-sized pooch. But finally she picked the dog up and took it to another room and Cody was able to reclaim his composure.

On another occasion a staff member decided to take Cody and two of the other clients who happen to be very chatty young ladies. One of the girls likes to ask questions about everything and the other likes to talk non-stop. After listening to them for 15 minutes or so it was just too much for Cody and he began to have a meltdown.

Cody started banging his head on the passenger side window of the car. The staff member who was driving pulled the car to the side of the street and quickly but calmly redirected all three clients by letting them know they were having unsafe behaviors. They were told that if they could not be safe then they all would have to return to the facility and other clients would be allowed to make the deliveries. That was pretty much all it took to get the situation under control.

Yes, there are some glitches to be worked out but I’m still excited that Cody is taking part in this activity. It gives him lots of practice in appropriate interaction with people with whom he will need to have a cordial, yet professional attitude. It is helping him develop skills that perhaps one day he will be able to use in gainful employment. But most of all it is teaching him what it is to be charitable. I like to tell him how proud I am of him for his charitable work. Because it means he is giving back to the same community that has given so much to him.