Posted by Sy Friedland, Chief Executive Officer
I have to admit that I am addicted to the column, “Modern Love,” which appears each week in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. Usually it features an exotic story that seems to come out of a work of fiction, or for certain, a screenplay for a new feature film. There are usually romantic couples flying kites in Tiananmen Square or meeting in an oasis in a Middle Eastern desert. This past week, August 22, was different. The article, “My Brother’s Keeper (Assembly Required),” by Lorna Wyckoff, a writer and marketing consultant, told of her relationship to John, a “42-year-old mentally challenged brother.” Basically it tells of assuming responsibility for her brother after her mother’s death.
I was struck by a couple of parts of the article; the list of wonderful people who help John live a fruitful independent life and his sister’s ordeal in learning how to help care for him. The caretakers range from the aptly called St. Joan, his caseworker, who oversees most of John’s life, to the baristas at Starbucks who always have his morning coffee ready just the way he likes it. By the end of the article, John’s sister has learned how many things she has to think about to provide good care and supervision for her disabled brother.
The article made me think of our own Programs for People with Disabilities in a number of ways. We have our own “St. Joans” who oversee a lot of lives in a very real way. I have seen a lot of JF&CS baristas helping people from CHAIWorks get their morning coffee. And I have heard from many sisters and brothers about what it has meant to be caretakers for life of a sibling with a disability, and what our programs mean for them. It certainly takes a village, as they say.
Sometimes you have to read something to see what is in front of you. I think this was the case for me with this article. It gave me a new understanding and appreciation for work I see every day.
I am a clinical psychologist by training and for the last 16 years have been the CEO of JF&CS of Greater Boston. I am interested in photography, art, and music. I try to combine these with a great deal of enthusiasm about travel. Visit my blog, WorldWideSy.