marilyn'S AMAZING STORY...
NACL has worked for almost 35 years to build inclusive communities through the removal of barriers that prevent people with diverse abilities from reaching their full potential.
With each of these the “Amazing Stories,” we are reminded of this fundamental principle with every discussion with our persons served and their supporters. Our visit with Marilyn was an example of how she is currently living her full life with the support of her Home Share Provider Ann, and the staff at NACL’s Home Share Program.
As we situate ourselves indoors for our visit with Marilyn, Ann, and NACL Home Share Manager Jaesann, we are of course respectfully following COVID-19 requirements. We are wearing our masks, and we’re spaced around the room in what feels at first like a strange way to carry on a conversation.
However, Marilyn is the first person to make everyone comfortable with her inevitable sense of humor, infectious laugh, and quick quips – which is remarkable when you consider that some of us are new to each other – and notwithstanding the COVID-19 requirements. We easily begin our visit feeling as though we’ve known each another for a very long time.
We are also immediately aware that Marilyn and Ann have a friendship that shows how much they enjoy one another’s company – and their strong bond!
And so our conversation begins...
We learn that Marilyn has been involved in many of NACL’s programs over the years, including Actions Day Program and NACL Employment Services. She has done some work at NACL’s Admin Office through her time at Actions, and she also has administrative work experience with Community Living BC. Understandably, she tells us she misses working…but more so really misses the people. Recently, Marilyn has needed to acknowledge that her health has been a bit of a challenge, and that she has to pay attention to keeping herself healthy.
She is quick to add that what has kept her happy and on track during these challenging times has been her dear friend and Home Share Provider, Ann.
The friendship that has grown between Marilyn and Ann provides the answer for Marilyn’s current and obvious cheery and positive disposition. Marilyn demonstrates confidence in her life’s journey, while adjusting to her health issues with Ann’s support and encouragement.
Marilyn and Ann have been living together for five years. They agree this has been a blessing for both of them, and Marilyn quickly says, “This just works…and I’m NOT LEAVING.”
Ann supports Marilyn’s comments on how smoothly they have managed to blend what each of them needs in their lives. “Our days are very full. We start our day with our morning coffee, and then we continue on. Our day-to-day activities are filled with doctor’s appointments for Marilyn, and doing what we can to stay busy. Social interaction is difficult but necessary even in these COVID times, and we try to do whatever we can to stay active in the community.”
“…and I am a bit of a social butterfly,” Marilyn adds with a laugh.
As we begin to wind up our visit, Ann tells us that in a very recent discussion with Marilyn, she shared something that she’d never talked about before.
“I was so surprised that she had not talked about this at any time over the five years we have lived together. We talk about everything and spend a great deal of time together, but this was something I think is important for her to share as part of her Amazing (Lifetime) Story.”
Marilyn has actually had a very full and publicly-engaged life, that goes back several years when she was still living in Alberta. She tells us that she was very active as an advocate for people with developmental disabilities, at a time when governments were starting to take a more supportive position towards the needs of all people.
It’s easy to see how Marilyn would have been able to speak frankly and openly about the need for people in authority, as well as the general public, to understand and support programs to facilitate better lives for all people.
Marilyn took an active part in public awareness by speaking at events/conferences, and attending meetings with officials to speak from experience about the kinds of barriers needing to be lifted to change antiquated thinking – including what would now be considered derogatory names of some organizations!
Marilyn remembers an exchange she had with an elected official who just wasn’t willing to try to understand her point of view on issues that needed immediate attention/change. Her response to this exchange demonstrates her quick thinking and sense of humor:
“I said to the gentleman, ‘If you had common sense, you wouldn’t argue with me.’”
(If this isn’t already on a t-shirt – it SHOULD be!)
NACL is proud to know that Marilyn has had the opportunity to play an active role in her past by speaking out at a time that needed to hear her voice. This should remind us that we can (and should) all continue to advocate for human rights – and if we all do our part, the better we all will be.
We still need the public to know that, as Marilyn says, “We’re not cookie jars…we’re humans.”
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOME SHARE?
Our Home Share Team would love to speak with you about the program, and how you could possibly get involved! Click here for a description of the program itself - or click the button below to connect with our Senior Home Share Manager, Brianna Otto.