I feel my family’s relationship with Richmond has produced two extraordinary benefits.
First, there is the joy of knowing that my daughter is being well-cared for by dedicated people who treat her as if she were part of their family. Second, this awareness of her excellent round-the-clock care, frees my family – and other Richmond families – to have the lives they ought to have. There is no need to agonize over or second-guess decisions. Instead there is the recognition that it is permissible to enjoy aspects of everyday life.
Admittedly, these benefits didn’t appear overnight because Lauren’s move into a Richmond group home in 1992 when she was 6-years-old was one of the worst days of my life. But that was then. Over time I have had the pleasure of seeing Lauren’s life enhanced in so many ways by the exceptional people who work at Richmond and positively influence everything in her world. There’s her social life; she goes to dances, concerts, plays, movies, religious services and so on. There’s her time away from Richmond; for example, a recent vacation at a water theme park in the Poconos. And there’s the care from people who, despite Lauren being non-verbal, knew her well enough to save her life two years ago by recognizing in a split-second look that she was in respiratory distress.
This adds up to a better life for Lauren than I could ever have imagined. And it’s one in which I can play an active part, too, because of the many opportunities for enriching activities with Lauren, as well as dialogues with Richmond caregivers and administrators. Richmond Community Services is not just the agency overseeing my daughter’s care; it has also become our extended family.