A Wrangler’s Tale – October 2021

“I wouldn’t trade this place for anything,” Luke said. His mom, Christina, nodded in agreement. “I remember the smile on his face,” she said, “after a visit here. It took us a year to decide, but we both knew it was the right place because it gives him a sense of independence.”

Independence is hard to come by, thanks to the many effects of a dozen brain surgeries. Luke continues to grow more independent, the journey bringing challenges to both Luke and his mom. She explained the challenges she has faced to make sure Luke has as many experiences as possible, like walking across the stage at high school graduation. Luke shared about facing the challenges of limited mobility and vision.

Among Luke’s favorite programs at New Danville are cooking and the “What’s Happening” class. When asked whether his reputation for liking to share his opinions on a variety of topics was true, he nodded, smiled, and replied, “Yes.”  His favorite topics? Politics, current events…life.

“I was his caregiver for eight years,” his mom said, “and I wanted to be sure that he would be safe and appreciated wherever he landed. The staff at New Danville are loving and understanding. It was scary when I heard that there were field trips to town for movies or pizza. Luke’s sister joined in and now she loves being a part of the fun. I was worried for his safety and about the responses of people. People can be cruel in what they say or how they act. Being around people with challenges who are growing more independent has been good for Luke.”

“We respect each other’s disabilities,” Luke said. Respect is at the heart of the journey for independence, self-esteem, and relationships.

Luke’s mom shared a moment that she and Luke are particularly proud of. A while back, there was a fellow Wrangler who was having a hard time drinking a soda because of his tremors. Luke, being personally familiar with the condition and its frustrations, put a straw in the can and held it so his friend could drink easily. Luke smiled at the sharing of the story. His mom re-emphasized that a lot of Wranglers have been through a lot, but they, along with the staff, are there for each other.

A Wrangler’s Tale – September 2021

After eight years with another program for adults with IDD, Audra came to New Danville in 2017. Barbara, her mother, said she could see the effects immediately. How those changes came about is a Wrangler’s Tale.

“We loved it here,” Barbara said, speaking of their first impressions of seeing New Danville.  “It is quiet, peaceful and everyone is so caring and positive,” she added, reflecting her observations after years of experience here.

Audra is a Wrangler II. “She looks forward to each day at New Danville,” Barbara said, “and I get to hear all about the many things she did during the day when she gets home.”

“Audra had some behavior issues at her previous program,” Barbara said, “but not here (New Danville). I remember telling the staff when we first started coming here that if there were ever any behavior issues, call me. I have yet to receive the first call. I think it is because everyone at New Danville is positive. They provide undivided attention to the Wranglers and Wrangler IIs. As a parent, I can tell who really loves the clients, and it was clear when I first met the people here, and it has proven true ever since, that the team at New Danville loves all the clients.”

A Wrangler’s Tale – August 2021

“They are my heart,” says direct support professional Debbie Rigsby. It shows. Debbie works with our Wrangler IIs and it is pretty clear she is theirs, too.

Wrangler IIs have more challenges than the Wranglers and need special attention and assistance. Some are nonverbal. “Our goal is always to help our clients develop as many skills and as much independence as possible. Some days are better than others, of course, but every day is a good day in its own way.”

The Wrangler IIs have had exciting opportunities lately, thanks to the generosity of New Danville friends. The weather wreaked havoc with scheduling plans for the new Catch and Release class where Wranglers get to fish (link to past article). For most of the summer, only Wrangler IIs had the opportunity to participate. While attention spans may be short, the joy is not on these expeditions. With staff members taking care of baiting hooks and removing the “trophy” bluegill of the day, the Wrangler IIs were able to enjoy the outdoors, serenity, and simple pleasures of catching fish.

“Anything we can provide that gives them a sense of independence, normalcy, and socialization is good. Every small step is a big win,” Debbie said.

When it comes to dancing — there is a lot of music enjoyment and dancing at New Danville — the Wrangler IIs enjoy the movement and socialization. Next to the assembly room that also serves as the lunchroom, dance hall, and movie theater, is a more quiet space for the Wrangler IIs to enjoy being part of the crowd but distanced from the noise and commotion.

Achievement matters. Every class and program strives to offer opportunities for achievement and accomplishment. Thanks to a recent contribution (link to story), the Wrangler IIs are using iPads with apps designed specifically for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With them, they are enjoying the successes of coloring, playing games, communicating ideas with icons, and much more.

“My mentor told me years ago,” said CEO Eva Aguirre, “that all joy is equal. The joy the Wrangler IIs show with every success reminds me of his words from many years ago. They epitomize his wisdom.”

A Wrangler’s Tale

Justin’s mom never thought that she and her son would need New Danville’s services.  Thanks to a recent scholarship, his progress continues. The many lessons they have learned together is a Wrangler’s tale.

“I wish more people could learn from what Justin has – have a big heart, don’t judge, don’t hold a grudge. The world would be a better place,” Justin’s mom, Sandy, shared in a recent conversation. They have been through challenging times to have the gifts revealed though.

They both see New Danville as a gift and a blessing. Justin has been able to return to the day program thanks to the generosity of the Assistance League of Montgomery County who provided scholarship funds for day program fees. “I feel blessed to be at New Danville,” Justin said, “and appreciate being there. I feel blessed that this (ALMC’s scholarship support) is happening for me.” Five years ago, neither Justin nor his mom would have ever imagined that they would be part of the New Danville family.

Sandy first heard about New Danville years ago through its then-presence at Market Street in The Woodlands. Luckily, the memory stuck.  When Justin suffered a traumatic brain injury several years ago and she found no brain injury centers that would take his insurance, she recalled New Danville. After some research, she concluded New Danville felt right for them.

Justin and his mom share an affinity for the outdoors, animals and art. Justin enjoys experiencing all that, and more, at New Danville.

“He has come so far,” she said. “He is not the same person he was a few years ago (after the injury). He is now able to create things and he loves to share them with others.”

Sandy feels the progress he made at New Danville before the COVID lockdown served him well during the 15 months he was unable to come to the day program. “He continued his improvement, but it was lonely.” Justin nodded and said, “I love New Danville. The people, going to class. I like art class. I created presents for my mom in art and for a friend in woodshop.”

Justin’s short-term memory remains an issue, though it is improving. She said that in 2019 Justin spent a lot of time with the miniature horses and could remember them at the end of every day. “That was pretty special,” she said.  “I was surprised and pleased that he has remembered for so long that he made those gifts. He would often not be able to remember what he did during the day by the time he got home. But he is improving. The doctor said that his brain is building new neural networks. His activities at New Danville are helping make that happen.”

How did a birdhouse become a bowling ball?

How did a birdhouse become a bowling ball? The answer is in this Wrangler’s Tale.

Eric has been a resident at Meadowbrook, the residential part of New Danville, for many years. He’s quite busy, watching over the chickens and goats, assembling pallets, working in the woodshop, and participating in outings, like bowling. And that is how a birdhouse becomes a bowling ball.

In the woodshop, Eric created a birdhouse that he entered into the art and craft competition at the Montgomery County Rodeo and Fair. He won an award for his entry, and with the award came a cash prize.  On one of the regular bowling excursions that our Wranglers participate in, he set his eye on a new bowling ball. He proudly proclaims, “The award money is how I bought the ball.”
As he continues to get accustomed to his new, flashy bowling ball, his scores are creeping higher and higher, which he enjoys sharing the latest of in between his many chores and activities.

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