It all started about 9 years ago when this lovely man named Dan and I became friends. He walked through the doors of The Treehouse to visit as he always did. I was new on the job as Support Worker to the janitorial crew. Still, Dan greeted me with open arms and lots of warmth and we became instant friends.
Over the years, our friendship grew and grew to become a strong bond not only with me but also with the people in the janitorial crew and the catering program. There wasn’t a week when I didn’t see Dan come in to hang out with the crew and spread his contagious humour. He always appreciated having a free agent status. However, he was, and always is, part of the crew. We shared trips to the beach, the annual picnic, going out for lunch, working events together and so much more.
In 2010, Dan and his roommate moved next door to me and my family. Dan was so very friendly that he became fast friends with Steve, Jacob and Shania. He was such a good neighbour and he did so many things for us, like inviting us over or bringing us baked goods. In his playful way, he wrote us many pretend tickets for parking violations, one of his favourite activities. Above all, Dan was always there if we needed him.
Soon, Dan started to tell me that he wanted to live with my family and me. I wasn’t sure if he was just saying that or if he meant it. Dan’s support staff, being so extremely person centred and loving, facilitated his dream to live with my family become a reality. With many months of planning and working together, Dan moved on November 1, 2013.
It was a huge change for the many people involved, but everyone was genuinely intent on keeping Dan at the centre of his dreams. It has been a wonderful new beginning for me and my family to welcome Dan into our home which has become his. We just love having him with us. Jacob says, “It seems like Dan has always been with us, Mom”. Shania constantly laughs at his jokes. Steve has a guy to understand and watch all those sports with him. Chevy, our dog, has someone that spoils her.
Although it was difficult for me to leave my job at Employment Training and Support and The Treehouse, making the decision to go down this road has been an incredible blessing for me in so many ways. I still get to be a part of Semiahmoo House Society, my home away from home, and I’m able to share my life with Dan. It doesn’t get any better than that!
As for our dear Dan, when we were asked to write about our new beginnings for the article, he was overjoyed. Dan is an open book about what he needs and wants in his life and loves to share it. He is very open to say that he misses his old life, his amazing staff, the beautiful memories they shared and the years of being together. That being said, Dan is very quick to say that he loves his new home and that his long-time dream has finally become a reality.
As far as dreams go, Dan always has a long list of the things he needs and wants. However, buying The General Lee, the car from the Dukes of Hazard, is out of the question, Dan—ha ha ha, oh Dan!
Speaking on behalf of Dan and my family, we have so much gratitude for everyone who together to create such a wonderful new beginning for us. Big changes can be difficult and challenging but with perseverance and unity: “Together, we can!”
Dan would like to thank all his support staff and roommates from Laurie McColl and 153A Street for the wonderful years. They were tremendous. Here’s to a great new beginning and a NEW 2014!
By Dan Carroll & Denene Robinson
Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community.
The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.