Life at Hillside
MORGAN | KEEPING THINGS TIDY
Morgan has lived at Hillside for nearly 20 years, coming here when he was a young adult. His family encouraged him to get to know people and he has actively sought out friends in the community. He usually inquires about the kind of work people do as he likes to work. He especially likes people who are involved in firefighting and trash collecting. He works in the recycling programs at Hillside and looks forward to workdays eagerly. He uses an electric wheelchair and is amazingly adept at guiding the chair everywhere he wants to go.
When a new family moved into the neighborhood just a few doors away from Hillside, Morgan introduced himself and got to know them. He offered to help empty their trash and they agreed. He is very punctual about remembering when they need his help. When the neighbors recognized that there was no continuous sidewalk connecting Hillside with the walk at their house, they constructed a small ramp to their sidewalk to enable Morgan to reach their driveway safely without riding in the street so he can do the work he loves to do.
INGELISE | LOVER OF STAGE AND SCREEN
Though in some ways she is shy, Ingelise loves performers and performing. A very loving person who enjoys talking to everyone, she is fascinated by popular music, movies, and TV personalities. She studies the backgrounds and stories of her favorites—she loves Bob Barker and Sonny and Cher—on the internet and adopts the latest fashions in her own inimitable style. She wheels around the hallways of Hillside adorned playfully with jewelry and turns her hat sideways at a jaunty angle.
Although she expresses her enthusiasm for popular culture daily, once a year, she really gets a chance to overcome her shyness, stretch her skills, and shine. The annual holiday season play produced by her day program, Alpha Center, is the centerpiece of her year. Soon after Labor Day Ingelise begins to ask her fellow residents and Hillside staff, “Are you coming to my play?” Her excitement as the performance approaches is contagious. For the last few years, Ingelise has had a central part in the play and she handles it like a veteran of the stage. Last year the play was Johnny Rocker and the Sorcerer’s Phone, and Ingelise played both The Professor and The Headmistress with great aplomb. It’s truly remarkable to see all of the performers in the holiday play working together to create something that brings real joy and an important sense of accomplishment.
EDMUNDO | WHY SO HAPPY?
Edmundo—Coco as we call him—came to Hillside 4½ years ago. He is now 27 years old. He is challenged by serious medical and cognitive handicaps. But he is always alert, engaged and smiling. Visitors often ask, “Why is he so happy?” Coco himself doesn’t talk or communicate directly, so our staff must learn to “read” him to know his preferences and respond to his needs. What is clear to everyone is that Coco thrives on the same stuff we all seek: human interaction and affection, sensory stimulation, the sound of familiar voices, a bright warm day. Despite his many challenges, Coco is most often found with a big grin on his face that reminds us simply: “It’s great to be alive!”
LIZ | A PASSION FOR ART AND RELIGION
Liz was born with cerebral palsy. She has never been able to walk or talk and has limited use of her hands, but she is full of an amazing delight in life. She loves art and music and is devoted to her spiritual life. She is warm and caring and gets along with everyone.
Liz came here from New Jersey in 2005, because the quality of life possible for her at Hillside House could not be found closer to home. Liz’s father crosses the country several times a year to visit his daughter, and he calls her three times a week.
Liz’s joy can be seen every day as she shares a laugh with one of her many friends. Each night the staff help her watch her bible study DVDs, because this is important to her, and we have arranged for her to be able to take the bus by herself to church each week, where volunteers there take turns looking out for her.