It's been 4 years and about 4 months as of today (Sunday, October 19th 2003) since I started working at Ravenwood Home, formerly Hoffman Home. It's one of 5 groups homes that our company (Prarie Community Services) overlooks in Morris, Minnesota.
I love working here! I didn't expect to experience much as I've had so far when I first started in the month of June in 1999-after graduating from UMM. I've learned a lot about the developmentally disabled adults, which I never knew there was such a population here in this small city. Also, I've learned to improve many of my practical daily living skills:
-Cooking (baking pies, cakes, cookies, etc...; learning a variety of dishes-especially hot dishes!)
-Laundry (folding jeans with little creases, bedsheets, tips on using detergent/bleach, etc...)
-outdoor maintenance (planting a garden, shoveling the driveway-snowblower for the first time in 2002, etc..)
-indoor cleaning (bathrooms, mopping, sweeping, etc..) -taking care of people (physical, emotional, social, mental, spiritual-health)
-ability to work together in a team-work environment
Within this time span working for this particular group home, I've seen close to 20-30 different staff I've work with.
Several of many staff I've worked with
Compared to other past jobs, I love working here because of the changing work environment. I don't have to sit in a office desk or stay in the same place all the time. There is freedom to take the work outside in the back yard of our group home....
...or working inside aimlessly on waiting for another activity with the "consumers".
Personal Reflections on Gratitude
This place has taught me about humility and compassion to work with different types of people that society is unfamiliar with.
Working at the group home has ministered to me in many ways. As I celebrated Thanksgiving last week at Morris, I was able to reflect what I’m thankful for when I worked this past weekend. I was helped reminded of this prior to Thanksgiving Day when I was unexpectedly asked amongst a group of older adults at an informal noon-lunch setting. I shared how I’m thankful for working at the group home for over 5 years now. It has opened my eyes to “small daily tasks as brushing one’s own teeth”, which “we” take for granted. One of the ladies present added that they are always smiling. I replied, “it’s because they have no worries, like the people in the world outside…we need to do this, which we can learn from them”. There is consumer over seventy years old and she has more energy than people her age or younger. I feel it’s probably due to the mix of benefits of the group home setting: healthy eating mandated by our health nutritionist, less stress influence from the world, and the surrounding of more optimistic-caring people.
I’ve heard this from co-workers and others that work in this related work environment-“Working here makes me forget all of my problems”. Yes, I truly agree! When I come to work, most of my problems are totally forgotten as I get refocused-the attention of one self goes to themselves! I can’t explain this, but when one works at an environment helping others, you forget about yourself-less selfish! Most of the time this happens, which I honestly don’t do this all the time. For example, when I bring my problems from home to work, I create an unproductive work environment. Several times this has happened, I came to work with “a lot of things on my mind” and some/few of the consumers would see this. They would ask me, “what’s wrong?” Just looking at them or hearing this from them just puts an automatic smile on me. We would then joke around together that moment and do this rest of the shift. Another time(s), one/few of the consumers started to pray for me right on the spot!
I’ve learned to be a kid again working here! One of the activities I like to do at times is coloring with the consumers. We would Xerox copy pictures and color them together at the kitchen table. Sometimes I get so into it that I totally forget what’s going on around me. I remember coloring and having fun for the first time working my first year here since the elementary days. Bingo was popular the first couple years when I started here, which we had the cool picture bingo cards (e.g. animals). A particular consumer would like to make animal noises every time he called a specific animal/number. A youth group from my local church came over to play this game one time as a fun-group activity. Kaoroke is an on-going fun favorite by some staff and consumers-particularly one specifically! We would sing in the living room at times, but now we have it at this particular consumer’s room due to noise complaints by others. Singing in other ways, such as Music Therapy time is probably the most liked by both consumers and staff. We have a musician outside of our home, but within the company come play for us weekly. In fact, we probably have gone through 5 of them: Bethany, Kris, Christie, Brianna, and Joe (currently). They have all played at the other group homes within PCS, which has been a blessing to all of us. It’s a break for staff, which we don’t have to come-up with an activity to keep them occupied. Plus, it is time for us to relax and watch (or even participate). Sometimes, it’s an opportunity for us “staff” to take care of some other errands or duties in/out of the house while these consumers are getting preoccupied. The consumers really get into this weekly activity as each one plays their favorite individual musical instrument (e.g. cymbal, guitar, etc…) and some even sing! Baking or cooking is actually well-liked by certain consumers. There is an older lady that loves to bake anything-from cookies, cake, and pies! In fact, she has been participating in a community project in which a PCS Staff is in charge of a pie baking class spearheaded by the Morris Community Ed Program. She has been bringing home “yummy delicious pies” that have been enjoyed both by consumers and staff during the holiday season!
Others that have been favorites in the past or/and currently:
-photo book sharing
-family fun day training (Olympic style activities: long jump, ball throw, 50 yard dash, etc…)
-going to movies
-walking around the neighborhood, to mainstreet, or though the parks
-riding a 2 seater tricycle
-attending local theater performances, concerts, dances, etc…
-gardening or visiting gardens (UMM Science Bldg., Horticultural Gardens, or nurseries)
-visiting the local library, stores, exhibits (e.g. arts and crafts fair) or events
-watching community parades
-going to church weekly on Sundays or any days of the week
-calling on the phone with staff, staff’s family, own relatives//family, other consumers from group homes, or friends overall
-playing a variety of board games (e.g. jenga, match cards, connect 4, etc…)
-going to the bigger metropolitan city for events or unique venues, such as: WWF Wrestling, Twins Baseball Games, Chanhassan Theatre’s play performances, etc,,
-enjoying the rural outside of the metro-Greater Minnesota-area outdoor activities, such as: camping or visiting (e.g. shopping, zoos, restaurants, county fairs, etc…) surrounding towns/cities in the West Central Area of Minnesota.
-Vacation trips to popular attractions: tropical attractions of Hawaii, music performances in Branson-Missouri, theme parks in Disney World-Florida, beaches in South Carolina, etc…
Took "consumers" (a.k.a. residents back then) to the Hoffman Parade back in the summer of 1999
Rodeo in Glenwood in the summer of 2000
Overall, I notice the consumers enjoy meeting new people in or outside of the community. One particular consumer I can reflect on likes to say “hi” to strangers wherever we go. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get a “hi” back all the time. Majority of the time, she and her peers are well received (e.g. a local store gave some small free holiday gifts to a particular consumer for just being himself, an owner of an entertainment venue gives discounts to staff and the consumer, etc…). They are always looking for that special attention, like any of us in the world-love is the most important way of showing this to them!
My passion is to share my experience with others by encouraging people outside of this environment to experience (eg. volunteering) this unfamiliar setting. I made this website to let people I get asked about my job to see what I do. Also, I'm hoping that people who see this website will be touched to contact me to volunteer with these group home "consumers" (residents).
-play board games (e.g. Bingo, jig saw puzzles, etc...)
-dance any style (eg. aerobic video)
-play musical instruments (e.g. keyboard piano, guitar, etc..) that our consumer already have some of their own (cymballs, guitar, etc..)
We've had church youth groups come in to do an interactive activity, musicians perform, church carolers during the Holiday season, singers, kids color Easter eggs, etc... They come in for at least 30 minutes and as long to an hour.
If interested volunteer or working, please contact:
or Ask for:
Cynthia (my supervisor, who graduated from UMM too)
605 W. 6th St.
Below is an example of some shifts I work at the group home:
Sat-Sun 6a-2p/2p-10p/10p-6a (awake/sleep) Mon-Fri 6a-10a/2-10p/4-8p/3-10p
June-August/Holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, 2 other weeks of the year)
*NOTE: I apologize for not putting pictures of the "consumers" (residents) of Ravenwood Home. This is due to legal privacy issues with their family.
Thank you for visiting my page at Angelfire. Please come back and visit again!