It has been a long time since I have posted. Like many of you, families and caregivers, life changed in mid-March 2020.
We had our last supper, so to speak, of Hope Family Village families at Jimmy’s in March. Jerry and Joy, one of our founding families, were bravely there. They are in their mid- to late 80s. They have always encouraged me. Been very active in NAMI Williamsburg, operating exhibits for both Hope Family Village and NAMI.
For the past six years, we have worked hard to secure land for a 25-family project that sought real care. A community of acceptance on property originally intended for that purpose. Through two VA State Governors, acreage has been identified on the Eastern State surplus property specifically for Hope Family Village Corporation. No small achievement, 25 acres have been promised for a $1 lease arrangement.
For over two years, we have patiently and consistently worked with the Office of General Services and James City County to address a need that can only grow in our country. Recently, we selected legal counsel to help us work through details to take a budgetary commitment and turn it into something tangible.
Some things are destiny. Even destiny requires persistence.
To carry on with our mission, we have been generously supported by The Griffin Family, Williamsburg Community Foundation, Exelon Corporation, and many other smaller donors. We are very judicious with our funds and proud of that. Everything we do is with volunteers. Yet, our funds go to real projects that change lives. Three guys, seeking a fourth, live in a permanent home. They are connected and receive my support as their coach through life. And, I am a regular Dad, the caregiver of a son living with a serious mental illness.
Andrea’s passing was very tough on me. She was an early member of the Williamsburg Fairweather Lodge. I was her lodge coordinator. She might have been an early victim of Covid; it is hard to know. Scott, Steve, Ben and me, you see us pictured above, have carried on. They decided to begin walking the neighborhood when everyone else was told to shudder in place. We had our meetings on Zoom, for my protection, as a senior for several months, but started an outdoor activity. No one has contracted the virus.
Steve and I have walked two miles a day almost every day since. We now know 12 families, who we formerly did not know, in our 50 home neighborhood. And, they know us. Some join us on occasion. We have begun talking about holding a Covid-safe block party for this Fall.
Establishing the first Fairweather Lodge in Virginia, a regular home for people living with a serious mental illness, living in a regular neighborhood, was a tangible project. And, the lodge passed its first full year of operation in July. To celebrate, we went golfing at Revolution Golf.
The guys have done fantastic work. I am proud of hem. They have filed all of their Quarterly Outcomes Reports to the Coalition for Community Living (zero hospitalizations); put out four newsletters; kept the house up; shared weekly Saturday morning breakfasts; volunteered in the community; and more. They are a family. A good neighbor.
What the lodge exemplifies is Hope Family Village. Yes, we want to build something new and important in our community. Something that addresses our loved ones and their 8.4 million caregivers. And, maybe many USA families are finding out that self-isolation, losing paying work, not connecting with friends and families, is hazardous to your mental and physical health. This is the Covid World. Look at all that has happened. It’s unbelievable.
As Hope Family Village, Fairweather Lodge, what we demonstrate is that there is light. There is hope. And, we do it right now, in our own neighborhood. And, there is no more cost-effective approach to wellness.