Jhau’ne with Jenny’s son, who adores her.

Living Well’s Thompson house is unique for several reasons. Of course, the people are what make it special, but there just happens to be cat who lives there, too. Oh, and the house has the only respite care room available within our houses.

First, let’s meet the people who live at Thompson.

David having breakfast at a local café.

David moved in back in 1996. He is very social, a total man about town. David loves being goofy, laughing and having fun—and he really LOVES clowns. His housemates would say he can also be very chill, but for the most part he is happy to be around people and engaged in conversation. He is very independent and spends his time flipping through magazines and filling up pages with stickers. David has a classic Walkman, and you can often find him listening to 70s and 80s classic rock hits. He likes to help with the cooking, and peeling garlic is a favorite task of his. Speaking of food, he loves to eat, but can be picky. That said, he generally will eat poached eggs, no matter who serves them. He also loves to be outside every day, which makes him happy. David has a very involved and attentive family who visit weekly. They often go out and he sometimes goes home on Sundays or hangs with his brother.

Breyden having lunch at a local restaurant.

Breyden moved in back in 2018 and is all about sensory experiences. You can usually find him in the sensory room where there is a great swing that he truly loves to glide in for sensory input. The motion is soothing, and he finds comfort in the movement. As someone with deep sensory feelings, Breyden for the most part likes Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). What this means is he feels positive sensations with certain noises. For example, some of us may be bothered by other people chewing or hearing songs played on repeat. But Breyden likes hearing others chew and loves to play Christmas music on repeat. For him, as is probably true for all of us, it is all about balance and finding what makes him happy. Breyden is nonverbal and does not like his communication device but communicates via gestures and shortened words. Breyden is a very energetic guy who loves to swim and spend time with his dad, stepmom, and sisters.

Jhau’ne’s sweet new bike!

Jhau’ne is the newest person at the house, having moved just about a year ago. She is incredibly social and has a huge network of friends. If you are looking for her, she is probably on the phone chatting with one of her dozens of friends. She uses a wheelchair to get around, is full of energy, and is very articulate. Jhau’ne enjoys her day program, does lots of extracurriculars and appreciates community engagement opportunities. She loves technology and updating her phone and smart watch. She also has a Nintendo Switch and is always on the lookout for the newest and coolest adaptive equipment. She loves shiny new equipment and recently got a new adaptive bike that will get used once the ice is fully melted! She is very close to her family, and talks to her mom, stepfather, sister and little brother all the time.

Breyden, Carmen and David—Christmas 2020.

Baby Kitty with Jenny and Leteya.

It would be a disservice not to mention a beloved member of the house to passed away in 2021. Carmen was a delightfully quirky gal with a tender heart and a kind soul. She loved and cared for people dearly, especially her housemates. Having moved in back in 1985 she was great friends with David. They spent over 20 years as roomies, and he misses her dearly. Some of her favorite things to do were line up erasers on her desk and roll up magazines in a very specific Carmen approved way. She also collected pencils, erasers, people’s business cards, and greeting cards. There are still cards throughout the house, leaving lovely memories behind. Carmen’s cat, Baby Kitty still lives at the house, providing another connection to this beautiful woman. She adored that cat, and to this day he is like a therapy cat for all who live and work at the home. Her loss was abrupt and hit the house hard. Carmen’s funeral was packed with people who loved her, and her caregivers miss her every day.

There is also a garden in the front of Thompson. Staff built it when an old Respite, Larry passed away. His health declined during his stay with us, but he made such an impact on everyone who worked and lived with him that the garden and swing are to memorialize him. In full bloom, the garden is beautiful and a nice place to sit and watch birds and bees. When spring comes again, Carmen’s family has asked to spread some of her ashes in the garden.

Jenny with Jeffrey, who came to us after his mom died and his sister became his guardian and needed help finding care. He is currently living at our Congress house, but will soon be moving to the Highview home. Jeffrey is totally deaf so every staff had to learn his adapted ASL to best support him, and he built strong relationships while at Thompson.

Program Manager, Jenney Ackerley, believes the relationships that we build with the people who live at Thompson, and even the respites who are with us for a short time, are what make Thompson special. Lisa Pilarski, Assistant Program Manager for Thompson, says she loves working with the people, adding that the job is never the same day to day. She really enjoys interacting with families and considers this job a great opportunity to be of service. Leteya Dilla, also an Assistant Program Manager, says one of her favorite parts of the job is being able to find fun activities for the people who live there. Pre Covid they all loved going to the movies, getting snacks, and settling in for a great show. So, when Covid took over she orchestrated a movie night in. They created movie tickets and fake money, allowing everyone to “buy” special snacks and feel a little bit like they were at the theater. Dilla says it feels great to be able to do things she loves outside of work with this incredible crew. Adding, “I feel lucky to be able to help in this way. It feels like I am doing work that is needed.”

Boy is she right, this work is essential. There are no days off for caregivers, and we are grateful for all of our direct care providers who have tirelessly showed up day in and day out for the people we serve. As mentioned in the blog about our 50th anniversary last week, we noted a respite room is reserved for people who need intermittent care when family or guardians need a break from 24/7 care. They are designed as a safe and caring place for people with disabilities to stay while their regular care givers are taking a brief vacation or getaway to relax. It is also used when someone is in transition from one home to another, and needs care, but not long term. The Thompson respite room is the only one in our houses, and pre Covid was booked regularly. Unfortunately, due to staffing shortages respite services at Thompson are on hold until we have more dedicated staff like Lisa and Leteya on board.

If you know anyone looking to make a direct impact in the lives of people like David, Breyden and Jhau’ne, please invite them to apply today. They are an amazing crew, and everyone would adore working with them.