What is Our Legacy?

It was recently Mother’s Day, and, on the weekend, I went to spend time with my mom. However, as we were heading out to eat, my mom caught her foot on the sidewalk by her condo and fell down. Long story short, she ended up with an ambulance ride and a couple days in the hospital as she broke her shoulder. As we were in the hospital ER that night, I was wiping some dried blood off her face and off her hands. As I did so, reflected back that all of my siblings and I had followed my mom’s example and went into fields that help people. In fact, we all worked at some point where she had worked. Most of our family holidays involved inviting clients from my mom’s place of work who had nowhere else to go for the holidays. My mom spent many years working with individuals with intellectual disabilities and was tireless in her serving of others. As I cared for my mother, I was moved to the realization I was taught to care for others by this woman who I now cared for as she laid on a gurney in pain. Her legacy of care lived on in me and my siblings.

In a serendipitous encounter that same day, I happened to run into one of the key founders of the organization my mom, siblings and myself all worked. Bob Hoogeveen served as their Executive Director for many years until he retired. He still stays involved with life at Village Northwest Unlimited even today though he is in his 80’s. Bob helped found the village in the mid 70’s after visiting a similar facility. Though he was already influencing lives as a high school principle, he changed career paths and helped 100’s of adults with disabilities over the years. The philosophy of Village Northwest has touched thousands of lives and has impacted the community and surroundings area in innumerous ways over its decades of service. Bob has truly left a legacy.

On May 7 Jean Vanier passed away at the age of 90. Jean Vanier founded L’Arche in 1964 in response to the treatment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in institutions. L’Arche provides inclusive communities where people with and without disabilities live and work together as peers. Vanier was convinced that most issues with people stem from a profound loneliness and worked on building relationships amongst all people that spanned social boundaries. Today, L’Arche includes more than 150 communities in 38 countries. It has more than 10,000 members. On top of L’Arche, Vanier also founded Faith and Light. Faith and Light is “made up of persons with an intellectual disability, their families, and friends who meet together on a regular basis in a Christian spirit to share friendship, pray together, fiesta and celebrate life.” Along with his work, Vanier published more than 40 books that have influenced many like me. His legacy has touched the world.

How about your legacy? Is it being placed in the values of your children as my mom’s was? Is your legacy transforming a community like Bob Hoogeveen’s has? Or is your legacy further reaching like that of Jean Vanier? Ultimately, all three of these people have had a large impact on my life and I can only hope to share the common shared philosophy with others. That same philosophy is core to The Mandt System as well. All people, have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and be provided with a place where they can say “In this place and with these people, I feel safe.”

Tim Geels – SVP Corporate Implementation & Instruction

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