Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
My daughter Lucy turns 22 later this winter, and two decades ago—when she was first diagnosed as brain damaged and unlikely ever to lead an independent life—I never dared to think what her adulthood would look like. The fear and the anxiety were too great. My first-born child was just so fragile and vulnerable. As she grew up, Lucy could not learn to communicate more than her most basic needs or reliably perform even rudimentary self-care tasks. Her schools in Michigan (where Lucy was born) had little clue what to do with her—or for her. And meanwhile Lucy’s medical diagnoses continued to pile up: autism and gastrointestinal disorders and cerebral palsy and epilepsy....
Lucy is the first resident at the newest addition to High Spirit: Aurora House. Her talented and dedicated houseparents, Aly and Troy, have been awesome (and awe-inspiring). They have worked hard to crack the complex and often mysterious code that is Lucy.
Everyone at High Spirit has done more than I ever could have dreamed to create a nurturing environment where my daughter can finally thrive. Largely due to these efforts, Lucy is today a transformed young woman: active and alert, decisive and determined, cheerful and curious. Words cannot express what it means to see Lucy doing so well. What High Spirit has given my daughter is a truly dignified existence.
- Michael Staub, Father of resident Lucy Staub
Our son is a young man!
Bar spent his 22nd birthday doing what he enjoys most – working. As he’s shoveling manure into the wheelbarrow and bringing it to the compost pile, you can see he loves what he’s doing. This is no small thing.
Our child, who could never learn to play; our child who needed constant activity, who fussed, tantrumed, broke stuff, ripped the pages out of books and would only be soothed with constant trips to the slides, food or another bath tub. What would become of this child? What would his life be like? I watched for people like him, and saw people bagging groceries in the market, or carrying mail at the hospital. I knew he could never do that.
Our boy is a young man now. He walks with purpose towards his destination. He knows what to do, how to do it, and he is proud. This is not just amusement, like swimming or slides, this is real work and he knows it. As Bar’s teacher once said, “The day Bar discovered the wheelbarrow and the pitchfork was a day of deep and abiding enlightenment." And it is just so. We are grateful to High Spirit for providing the place that supports and allows Bar to work with his wheelbarrow.
- Ginny and Bob Swain, parents of restident Bar Swain and Board Members of High Spirit Community Farm, Inc.
High Spirit is the realization of our dreams.
The typical Massachusetts arrangement for a disabled adult like my son, Will, includes placement in a group house overnight and weekends, and in a workshop during the weekdays. We knew he would not be able to handle the constantly changing staff at the house and workshop as well as the daily transport.
With High Spirit we found the realization of our dreams for Will; the life-sharing home at High Spirit Community Farm has proven to be exactly what he needs. On good days when his seizures are fewer, he fully participates in family life and the gardening work. He is in charge of wheelbarrow trips to the compost, filling the birdfeeders, setting the table and doing the recycling, to name a few of his daily challenges and successes.
On days when he has many seizures he remains in this same home with his High Spirit family’s support, joining in as best he can. Under this kind of flexible, loving, and respectful care he is both challenged and thriving. Every parent hopes his or her child will find a nurturing community life that encourages that child to be the best he or she can be. I have worried for so long that Will’s special needs might prevent his ever being part of such a community. High Spirit has provided it for Will.
- Dea Angiolillo, mother of resident Will Angiolillo and member of High Spririt Board of Directors
Being a part of High Spirit makes me feel thankful.
In my opinion it’s not just the good care that makes High Spirit work so special, it’s like a perfect concept for everyone: to improve their social skills, but even more to discover their talents. I am very impressed with William who has changed so much in just the three months that I have known him. He used to get stuck in a behavior often, and now he’s much more cooperative.
I am benefiting from the work as well, because it makes me think more about my own behavior. Being part of High Spirit makes me feel more thankful for everything."
- Johannes Noeke, Seekonk House Year-Long Volunteer from Germany