I have lived in Ypsilanti for 51 years, and five of these years have been spent at The Village (aka St. Joseph’s Village). I am 87 years old and a widower with two daughters living in Florida with their families, whom I visit four or five times a year.
For 35 years, I taught oral communication at a college-level, and 28 of these years were spent teaching at Eastern Michigan University. I’ve also spent 32 years as the college’s field announcer for the EMU marching band, and for fun, I love singing in choirs. I love animals, and I enjoy my extensive collection of big-band records from the mid ‘40s and ‘50s. However, I do not enjoy raw onions.
At any age, health is critical, and I am happy to say that I am in good health.
What struck me first about The Village was its walking trails, convenience of living near all the services I need, as well as many other aspects. What keeps me here is the staff.
They have never treated me as a patient, or worse, a client. Their words and actions challenge me to reciprocate their kindness with my own behavior. They are well-trained and compassionate — it’s clear that they find joy working with people like myself. I appreciate everything they do! I plan to stay here as long as my life’s circumstances permit. If things change, I will move to a senior-citizens residence in Florida closer to my family, but for now, The Village is my home and my family.
St. Joseph Village
One day about a year ago, I received a phone call from a woman whose uncle had been living at a homeless shelter for the past 11 years. The shelter was run very strictly and didn’t allow for much independence or personal growth, and she deeply desired to see her uncle have a chance at a better life. His name was Bobby, and years prior, he suffered a brain injury from a car accident. His niece wasn’t sure of his capabilities, and she needed a little guidance to learn more about her uncle’s potential.
Over the next month, I met with Bobby and spent time with him learning his desires. I also spent time with the shelter’s staff along with his niece in an attempt to gather knowledge of his past and how together we could better his future. I was so dedicated to his case that I even went to the Monroe County Fair to visit his niece’s goats that she was showing — that’s what us marketers do, right?
Though the staff at the shelter had grave concerns that Bobby was "too institutionalized and unable to be independent", I saw something in this very quiet, mild mannered man and his supportive niece that made me feel different. I wanted to proceed with caution to keep everyone involved safe and to maintain a working relationship with the shelter.
At this point, I offered a "respite stay" at Marian Place for one month. What could it hurt right? If he wasn't able to function on his own, we could help him move back to the structured shelter, but something in me desperately wanted this man to have a chance at a happier, more functional, and independent life. The shelter agreed with the cautious approach and Bobby and his niece were excited. I suggested a structured medication regimen to keep Bobby on his important daily medication routine.
His niece ordered a med management machine through Guardian Alarm. I also suggested we look into home care involved and get support people in place to help ease the transition. Everything was finally set up, and Bobby moved in.
I visited with Bobby daily for those weeks, and I prepped all staff at Marian Place with his details and asked for them to allow some grace as he transitioned, which they happily did. Our housing manager, Sara, took Bobby under her supportive wing and made sure to stay close to him and assess any potential barriers to success. Bobby's first meal at Marian Place rendered the biggest smile from him that I'd seen yet. He loved the food and said that he'd never been given so much food in his life. He finished every last bite.
During the month of respite stay, Bobby took the city bus to events and became involved in all scheduled Marian Place outings and activities. Bobby's niece kept in close contact with me and him during this trial run. I remember sending her pictures (with Bobby's permission) of him thriving and growing and most of all, SMILING. After the month long respite stay, all involved gave the green light for Bobby to sign the lease at Marian Place.
Since his lease signing, Bobby has continued to thrive and is now the official resident kitchen helper here at Marian Place. He has daily jobs that he takes so much pride in and beams with delight as he vacuums the dining room. Every. Single. Day. I've honestly never seen someone so happy to vacuum. His sense of industry and feeling like he matters now has made him a very happy and content man. He is often found in our social hall ready to greet me or anyone that walks through the door with a loud "Hi! How are you?" and a smile. His meds are taken correctly every day thanks to the medication machine, and he no longer requires skilled homecare. He is truly thriving in a way even I didn't even anticipate.
I am truly so honored and thankful to have played a small part in allowing this man to have independence and happiness. This is why I do what I do and hope to continue to do so for a very very long time. The support that our staff offered him to achieve independence is what makes Marian Place so special here in Monroe.
-Amy Jo T.