Photo includes Bridges by Epoch community members (left to right) Helen, Angie, Roger, and Anne, Bridges by Epoch Life Enrichment Director (kneeling) Abbie, (standing) Bridges by Epoch Community Relations Director Sarah, Mitsy Kit CEO Tammy Roussell, and Bridges by Epoch intern Mykala, at Windrush Farm in North Andover, MA.
Look at these smiles! What makes these folks so happy? Based on my experience working with folks in our Mitsy Kit groups over the past three years, it is pretty clear. These folks understand what most of us forget on a daily basis. Happiness is a gift, most often received when you are giving it away to others.
What is most ironic is that the folks I work with should have the most right to complain. Yet, most of the time, they do not. You see, I work with the elderly, blind, memory impaired, stroke impaired, and others with physical and cognitive challenges. Some live in residential communities, some live with family, and some live independently and seek social engagement through day programs or community centers.
The folks pictured above, who are part of the Bridges by Epoch residential community for the memory impaired in Westford Massachusetts, are glowing with joy after giving away horse themed fleece pillows they personally handmade, to Windrush Farm equestrian therapeutic program participants. If you were there, you could not help be emotionally touched as they handed out their pillows to the riders coming out of the stables after the therapeutic program concluded. One Bridges by Epoch resident, Roger, said “Oh my God, so wonderful” about the experience, with a glimmer of tears in his eyes as he hugged the recipient of his pillow.
This is just one of the many humbling experiences I am blessed to witness. The folks I get to work with, by most people’s standards, have little to give, yet strive to find every opportunity to do so. Just yesterday, working with a blind and visually impaired group in New Hampshire, I was struck by the generosity and compassion of those who were legally blind them selves stepping up to help others in the group learn how to sew by touch, forgoing the activity for themselves. This generosity is a theme that continues to play over and over again as the folks I work with unselfishly seek opportunities to serve others, with joyful anticipation.
So what did I learn from the elderly, frail, and those challenged with disabilities? The key to happiness! If I am ever down, I go to work with my dear friends who know the true meaning of happiness is to give it away. I would highly recommend it!