11 May Mission Minute: A Life Lesson
by Kathe Rae, Manager of Mission Integration
Recently, Mai Cooper-Nolen, DSP in Supported Living, shared a story of an interaction she had with Rick Borkowski which she referred to as a life lesson. I believe her inspirational story bears repeating with some additional thoughts.
Please allow me to share one of the many lessons I have learned over the years from our clients. I would say this one is one of the most profound teachings, I have had at New Hope of Indiana. I was working at Riley Road assisting Rick with a shower early in the morning. We were having a very lively conversation as usual; I had to hear all the things that annoyed him over the past week, and his expectations for a better week ahead. Then Rick said to me, “Mai, you know Mary Ann’s birthday is coming up in four days.” She is one of the ladies who lives at the nearby Center Street home and is the longtime girlfriend of Rick’s housemate, Bobby. I said to him, “It’s so nice you remembered her birthday!” He replied, “But she’s family now. I have lived with her boyfriend for a long time and she’s been there. That makes her family.” Then he added, “And, we have also been neighbors for a long, long time. That makes a person family; don’t you think so?”
I stood there, looking at him for a moment and thought, Oh my god! That’s it. TIME and PROXIMITY. Two very essential elements in human relationships that we so often take for granted. Rick made me see that when we have the right attitude toward life and the people we come into contact with, TIME (the frequency of being together) and PROXIMITY (the nearness) nurture our spirit for love and acceptance. A lot of us have been with the clients at New Hope for so many years (TIME), and have assisted them with their care needs (PROXIMITY). We are so blessed to have such a wonderful FAMILY!
When I first read Mai’s story, my immediate reaction was “wow!” From a seemingly simple conversation with a client, she was not only able to make a profound connection with Rick, but also with the human spirit. We all want and need to be close to and spend time with people who are important to us. Yet we become so busy in our everyday lives, we often miss opportunities to truly connect. This can be as simple as asking how a person is doing, perhaps how their day has gone or about any special plans, activities, outings etc. Equally important is truly listening and reacting to their responses in a meaningful way. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to slow down and be attentive.
As Mai can attest, the rewards and life lessons are a blessing. Associates often comment that they receive so much more than they give in their work, just another of the many ways we at New Hope are ONE FAMILY!