Friday, March 29, 2013

Butch: The Caffeinator

Like coffee?  Well, if you work in Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) Administration building, you’d better!

Skylar’s vacation and Becky’s Holiday World adventure are just two of several mini-success stories happening on Campus after WFC and its staff experiences a paradigm shift of thinking around person-centered service.  Empowered, staff is asking person-centered questions of themselves and of each other on behalf of the individuals that we closely work with and serve on a daily basis.  We are encouraged to find ways to help them shift from a “service” life, which places focus on organizational services for them, to that of living more of a community life, which places the individual within the community doing what is important to them as an active participant and contributor.  We each have several communities:  work, social, religious/spiritual, ethnicity, familial, school, just to name a few; and if something happens to us, our community would miss us.  CEO Terry Brownson says WFC will have accomplished its goal; we will know that we achieved success in integrating those we serve into the community when members of our community notice one’s absence and reach out to express concern and inquiry.
Everyone in Owensboro knows Butch, the man always with a friendly “Hello, young man” or “Hello, young lady;” the man with a big smile, a loving and generous heart, and a carefree spirit. Everyone knows Butch because Butch knows no strangers.  Butch has been a part of the Wendell Foster’s legacy in some way, shape and form since he was a young child.  He attended school here when it was the “Spastics School and Home.”  As a young adult, he attended the day programs the Fosters offered, and in the last three years, he has called our Campus home. Butch loves WFC and the people who work here saying, “Wendell Foster’s been good to me.”  Butch keeps busy in his independent and very active life.  He goes to church at St. Joseph & Paul’s where he is hospitality minister.  He is a regular at the Elizabeth Munday Center.  Every day, Butch makes his rounds throughout the Campus, from the other Supports for Community Living house through the Centre Point Cottages, to say hello, spread good cheer, and keep in the know of what’s going on.    When in the Admin building, it wasn’t unusual for Butch to check on his “sweetheart” Lindsay and enjoy a cup of coffee too.

Last year, Butch wanted a cup of coffee in the Media Room in our Admin building but the pot was dry.  While it is unclear who initiated this process, a staff member came into the Media Room looking for coffee just as Butch was trying to figure out what to do about the empty coffee pot.  This chance moment initiated what would become a person-centered opportunity.  Rather than just make it for him, the staff member showed Butch how to do it himself: where the coffee pouches are stored; how much water to put in the pot; where to pour the water; and what button to push to get it started. Over a period of a few weeks, several different Admin staff members would walk Butch through the process until he had it down pat.  Butch enjoyed the sense of autonomy of making himself a cup of coffee.

Butch relished the new task so much so that he seized an opportunity to contribute to the Wendell Foster's community he loves so dearly:  keeping us amped up on caffeine!  He made it a part of his daily routine to come over in the morning to get the second pot going to make sure we always had coffee available.  Once a new pot is a-brewing, he goes around informing everyone, “I put on a pot of coffee for yall.”  Even those of us non-coffee drinkers are informed.  Butch says he makes sure we have coffee because we “are good people” and we “work hard.”  It isn’t unusual to see Butch early in the morning, around lunchtime, then again in the afternoon between 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. at which time he’d make the rounds to tell everyone “g’night yall.”

After the first of the year, whatever bug was making the rounds shortly after Christmas caught Butch and put him in bed for two weeks.  After a couple of days, Admin staff noticed the absence of Butch, but we were not alone.  Members from his local church, staff at the Munday Center, and other folks throughout our Campus noticed Butch’s absence!  Lindsay Overby, his caseworker, said her phone rang off the hook as people called checking on Butch and asking about his whereabouts. 

That is what it means to shift a person’s existence from a service life to that of a community life:  when someone or a group of people miss your valued presence.
Butch is now hereby titled “The Caffeinator” because not only does he keep our staff supplied with fresh hot coffee, but because he is always saying “I’ll be back” to check on the pot. 

Thank for the cuppa joe, Butch!

In the Next Blog Entry:  To Be Announced

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