Lisa's Life at Devereux
“My mother fought, once again, becoming an advocate for the educational rights of special needs students.”
One of my earliest memories is my mother telling me I must always watch out for my twin sister, Lisa. From the beginning, my parents had fought for my sister. My mother fought to convince the doctor she was having twins. My father fought to have the doctor in the delivery room on time. He wasn’t. Though we were both delivered with difficulty, Lisa suffered irreversible brain damage due to lack of oxygen. After weeks in the hospital, my sister finally came home, but my parents were uncertain about the future. Looking back, I can’t believe that Lisa’s path somehow ended in the most wonderful place, Devereux.
Thank you for taking a moment to let me share my story about my twin sister. I hope that you will be inspired by our journey and will join me in supporting Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s mission to Unlocking Human Potential in the lives of people like my sister, Lisa.
Growing up, Lisa was a happy child, included in all family activities. My loving and supportive parents never limited her potential. From kindergarten, she attended a special education class in our local public school. However, due to inadequate funding, the class moved each year to a different school, with a different teacher, to wherever leftover space could be found. My mother fought, once again, becoming an advocate for the educational rights of special needs students. She helped to establish statewide guidelines for special education including securing vital resources for small, stable classrooms, with individualized attention for each student, by teachers with expert training.
Throughout adulthood, Lisa continued to live with our parents and worked in food services at a local elementary school, but she always spoke of living independently in a group home. As happens with so many families, my parents never came to terms with their own mortality and failed to plan for my sister’s future. One year, over the course of a few months, they both became seriously ill, leaving no time to discuss a life plan for my sister. My father never recovered, my mother was placed in long term care, and Lisa was left alone, completely devastated. We wanted her to live with my family in rural Wisconsin, but she refused as it was “too cold and too boring.” At a loss, I googled “group homes for adults with special needs,” and Devereux appeared.
I found the courage to make that initial call and spoke with a very supportive and understanding staff member. For the first time in a long time, I felt there was hope for Lisa. We soon visited several Devereux group homes and, at the end of the day, my sister gave me a big smile and asked if she could stay. Lisa had decided that Devereux was her dream come true. She was so excited about her beautiful new home; you would have thought she won the lottery!
My mother was able to visit Lisa at Devereux just once before she passed. She was so impressed with the warm and bright furnishings, the excellent staff, her three friendly roommates, and the delightful little house dog - a pug named Buster. My mother turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, “You did what I was never able to do. You gave Lisa the opportunity to have the life she dreamed of. Thank you for finding Devereux.”
Lisa has a wonderful life at Devereux. With the help of their job placement team, she works full-time on the bakery team at Wegman’s grocery, where she recently received the Outstanding Employee of the Month Award. The twice-weekly swim fitness classes, the walking club, excursions to live theatre and sporting events keep her active and engaged. Lisa has joined my six-year-old son Ryan and me on vacations, such as the Disney Cruise, and spends holidays with us on our small farm, where she enjoys feeding the sheep and chickens and teaching me her latest baking tricks. Lisa tells everyone she meets how happy her life is at Devereux. I know she has thrived since she made her home there.
In moments of quiet, I am overwhelmed by our good fortune. After the heartache of losing both parents within a year, my sister was given the gift of Devereux. Lisa deserved her chance at a fulfilling, happy life living with wonderful roommates in a comfortable home, in a beautiful neighborhood, working for a top company, and supported by a team of qualified, loving professionals.
My mother did not believe it was a coincidence we found Devereux for Lisa. It turns out my grandmother was a young teaching contemporary of Miss Devereux’s in 1912. Our family greatly respected her work and became loyal donors to the Devereux School in its early years. How incredible that my sister is now blooming from seeds that were planted by our ancestors before she was even born!
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health cannot bring together compassionate care, industry-leading interventions, and family engagement without your support. Public agencies which fund our services simply do not cover the cost of our advanced care. Please make your gift today by visiting our secure online donation.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration. With your help, Devereux can help more families find peace, happiness, and hope.
PS: Your gift to Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health unlocks human potential and is needed now. You have the power to help us nurture adults and children like Lisa so that they may be the best they can be.
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