By Jordan LeSage
How has the spirit of giving affected you personally?
At the age of nineteen, I feel I am eternally grateful for all the giving the world has handed my family. Growing up, I have had the privilege of being a part of a unique community where all of the participants have been touched by someone with autism. My beautiful sister, fifteen years ahead of me, has touched my life in a way different than anyone else. Lindsey was diagnosed with autism long before I was born and has since opened my family up to a whole new world filled with several varieties of people from families in similar situations to organizations working for giving us the smoothest life we can have. Having a sibling with autism hasn’t always been the easiest but I would not want it any other way.
Being a part of this community has made my family feel very welcomed thanks to everyone being so giving. The two most giving people in our lives from this community, however, are named Clarissa and Dave. Flashback to 2006 where my family was struggling and these two strangers come in to save the day. They became Lindsey’s shared living providers but we like to say they just joined the family. This means that Lindsey no longer lived in my home and that living with them would give us all a better life. From the first visit to see if they were the right fit, we knew that this was the perfect place for Lindsey to call home. Clarissa and Dave, although not required to make any sort of personal relationship with us, certainly have given us plenty of their love. From teaching me basketball in their driveway to spending Christmas mornings together, these individuals have done nothing less than give us their all. Every Saturday I get the pleasure to see my sister as well as Clarissa and Dave who open their home to any soul in need. Coming through the door each weekend I am always greeted by my happy sister who is taken care of beyond well by these kindhearted people.
Having Lindsey as my sibling is much like having a little sister’s mind in an adult’s body. Sometimes Lindsey has a bad day but Clarissa and Dave handle it with ease and steer her back in the right direction to turn her day right around. Throughout these thirteen years, they have spent endless amounts of time finding the best way to help Lindsey be the happiest she can be. Some of Lindsey’s favorite things are having her nails done, which Clarissa exceeds in, and just simply spending time outside, specifically helping Dave fix cars in the driveway by handing him tools.
Clarissa and Dave, aside from giving Lindsey their all, have given us their all too. Besides my sister, they have spent years building individual relationships with each member of my family as well as friends that have joined our journey as well. Each holiday we are surprised by gifts and joyous spirits that are genuine and sincere. They have even given me rides back to college that is a two-hour drive from home when my mom had to focus on my sister.
Thinking about the journey we have experienced with them, I wouldn’t change any part of it. Clarissa and Dave have overcome some tough obstacles with us in addition to celebrating numerous achievements. Their spirits are so pure and would give anything for our family. We can say that we would give anything for them too. Along this journey Clarissa and Dave have held us up higher than we ever thought we could get and I don’t think my family could be the same without them being a part of it. I can confidently say that Clarissa and Dave have given me more than I could ever ask for, keeping my sister happy.
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.