So much is going on that I sometimes feel like I am in a sort of tornado swirl! We are grateful for the skills of new staff members. Cheryl and Amy have joined us and are doing great as they get to know all of us and how we work here. Karen’s last day will be November 12th and it is hard to imagine not having her here as part of our everyday. Change is always hard, but it also causes us to grow. With that knowledge, please pray for us!
Changing needs with those we care for brought a number of new challenges this month. But the wonderful way we work together with residents, staff and loved ones brings growth to our hearts, minds and spirits as we pray and problem solve together. Decisions are made around some combination of safety concerns and thinking about what matters most for quality of life.
Love and perseverance carry us through. And that brings me to our expansion plans! You may know that our Adult Family Home was only the first phase of developing our Therapeutic Interactive Intergenerational Neighborhood or TIIN. The first step for that happened in the early 2000s when we were able to get the government to approve our family home as a pilot for the use of Adult Family Homes for people of advanced age and in need of fiscal assistance. The goal was to be able to offer this type of care to everyone that wanted it.
The pilot worked, costing the government less money and offering the resident a higher quality of life. That challenge satisfied, finding a way to purchase enough property to get started and build the entire neighborhood on was the next obstacle. The person that was especially helpful with that once looked like he was having fun at the bank as we wrestled with the problem of a down payment. I later said to him “I hate trying to figure out the money part.” He replied, “I love it!”. I must have looked confused because he added, “I would not like doing what you do every day, but I know you love it. So you do what you love to do, and leave the money part to those of us that love doing that part.” I worked on believing that. In the end, his creative financing empowered me to provide care that brought in the needed funding stream to pay the mortgage. But more than that happened. Frail residents were empowered to live their best lives–in the midst of frailty. Their families were so happy with the care we provided that they could enjoy visits. In addition, many of them told me they were now less worried about their loved one and were now able to sleep at night and enjoy life again! As caregivers we made many new and wonderful friends through the resident’s loved ones and the many volunteers that came by to help. For the longest time I was completely confused when volunteers and donors thanked me for the opportunity to help. Later, I began to ask why people were thanking me. Over and over I heard people telling me that they found new purpose and belonging at Hope & A Future, or that our mission gave them more hope for their future and that they enjoyed knowing they were a part of helping others. I quickly realized that the social support we hoped would help our residents, had helped everyone! It had been our goal to help residents find purpose and belonging, but it turned out that staff, volunteers and donors were having the same experience. At the same time, Live-in staff were stabilizing their lives and working to move forward with long term goals while providing friendship and care to residents. Genuine community had already developed!
The expansion is far more complicated than the first phase. And again, our pioneering TIIN business model is being figured by a community of wonderful people. Among our advisors and board members, detailed planning is moving forward. The proforma (which is a budget for both building and operating the expansion) is nearing completion. And we are planning for our capital campaign. We are challenged, humbled and excited by the wonderful people joining us to bring this new and replicable model to fruition! Prayers are appreciated for this too!
For me, moving forward also means revisiting the reasons I started this journey 20 years ago. This is a very holistic project with many moving parts. The reasons for wanting to do this were in some ways simple yet also multifaceted. There is the desire to offer something more honoring than institutional life for elders who became frail. Another part was out of concern for the hands on caregivers in long term care–generally overworked and underpaid with inadequate resources for their families. My childhood had given me first hand knowledge of the synergy between the needs and strengths of elders and families with young children–especially when resources were limited. My goals included empowering both populations to flourish in a vibrant intentional intergenerational neighborhood where each person is known and celebrated while living in the “safety net of each other.” Our bookkeeper and administrative assistant Nancy Whitney once came in to work and watched staff thoughtfully. Later she said, “I have noticed how you work to know each person so well, that you can provide activity, music and even food that is interesting and meaningful to them. Everyone should have that opportunity.” On another occasion she said, “One of the things that is really important about what we are working to do here is empowering people who are normally marginalized to help others as well as themselves. That is so important!” We are working to break down stereotypes and offer hope and a future for everyone that comes our way. And we hope to empower everyone to use their gifts to help others. Our long term goal is replication of these neighborhoods in cities, villages, towns and townships–to bring diverse people together to flourish together.
This intergenerational project will need charitable donations to get off the starting blocks. We will tell you more about that very soon. Your gifts will help change the lives of young and old for generations to come! And we hope it will change the way we think about how we reach out to vulnerable populations for generations to come too!
On Sunday October 31st, 2021, Richard Rohr wrote a devotion titled : Where Justice and Charity Meet. Here is an excerpt:
“We need to make the kind of society where it is easier for people to be good.” said Peter Maurin (1877-1949). . . . We have ignored the foundational obligation of justice in our works of charity! For centuries we have been content to patch up holes temporarily (making ourselves feel benevolent) while in fact maintaining the institutional structures that created the holes (disempowering people on the margins). Now it has caught up with us in unremitting poverty, massive income disparity, cultural alienation, and human and environmental abuse. R. R.
At Hope & A Future, we have the privilege of solving problems with people from entirely different backgrounds. In the process, I have witnessed a new creativity flow from a variety of vantage points. I have seen people who need help, help others. I have watched smiles come back to the faces of people who had given up on life as they re-engage and bring joy to others. I have been changed by those I care for and my faith has grown. My passion for our mission grows as I experience the joy of problem solving in a community that uses compassion, intelligence, cooperation, talents and resources to move forward. I believe this is what God intended for our walk on this earth. And I am thankful for all who have and will help us move forward to create the first complet TIIN model. I believe we are offering a new way to help many and I am so grateful for the many people helping us navigate the best way forward!
Thank you for you interest!