A few weeks ago, Regional Director, Adrienne DeRuyck, came into the Communications Office and asked for assistance creating a postcard to entice people to work for Living Well. She was requesting an engagement piece with a blank spot for a personal message so staff can write a quick note to potential candidates. During the meeting Adrienne casually mentioned that her 9-year-old son Josh had some marketing ideas. There was talk of a well and a bucket. He had a whole vision and a lot of enthusiasm. Communications and Events Manager, Heather Heier, encouraged Adrienne to have her son submit his idea, if for no other reason than to post his proposal on Facebook. Everyone loves a cute and highly motivated child story, and together they figured he might just be on to something. Heather said he can be her junior intern, and Adrienne said he would love the opportunity.
Flash forward a month, after the dust of the holidays settled down, and Adrienne came to the office with the best flyer ever designed. Josh had carefully mocked up a flyer with tear off strips at the bottom calling people to apply at Living Well. He asked people to come be a helper. It was beautifully intentional, and glorious in its messaging. Heather took his design and recreated Josh’s concept, and it is now available for anyone to print at home and put up in their neighborhood coffee shop or community center. Take a look at this flyer, it’s brilliant.
What makes this story extra special is that when an elementary school aged child heard his mom discussing the need to get more staff at her workplace, he not only listened but went a step further and wanted to be part of the solution. His flyer is indeed incredible but knowing that he spent time creating it instead of spending time on video games or watching TV—that is what makes it amazing. If we look deeper the reason this boy is a giver is surely because of his family.
Mom Adrienne started with Living Well back in October of 2008 and spent 11 years with the organization in various roles. She left for a bit to pursue other opportunities, then returned as a Regional Director last February. She is a dedicated care provider and a huge advocate for disability services. Her husband, Dan, works as a special education teacher and he and his students have volunteered at our houses doing yard work and interior painting. Together Adrienne and Dan are incredible role models for Josh and his 13-year-old brother Charlie. As a family they have even volunteered at our Transforming Lives Galas. They are truly a family of advocates.
“To me it is not just about providing services, it is about providing community and family. I am so happy to share the mission with my family,” says Adrienne. When asked why he made the flyer, Josh said just hearing his mom tell him she needed more people to help at work was all the inspiration he needed. About his mom’s job and both parents’ dedication to helping others, he says, “I think it’s a really cool job, and probably really hard.” Adding, “I’m proud of them because they are my mom and dad.” Big brother Charlie says, “I think it’s awesome that they help people.”
The dedication of our employees to the people we serve, and the levels of advocacy we see from staff, families and supporters, is what makes Living Well so incredibly special. The people who work at Living Well do so out of a desire to help and be of service, and the support they give fellow coworkers is lovely. One of Charlie’s favorite baby gifts was a blankie gifted to him by Jenni Zeis, who has been with the company for 31 years, and is friends to all who know her. That the little baby she gave a blanket to grew up to have a brother who made a flyer, is not even surprising. Jenni had a grandbaby of her own recently, two-month-old Vincente Antonio, and with the way things go around here it would be no surprise if he, Josh, and Charlie were one day coworkers.
It appears kindness starts at home, and so does advocacy. Join us in 2023 as we grow disability awareness and tell the world why funding disability services is critical for the people we serve AND the employees who do the amazing work of helping others live rich and full lives.
And do us a favor, post one of Josh’s amazing flyers (Living WELL Flyer Print) in your neighborhood.