Joyce Rooney of Wrentham is used to giving back to the community. Over the years, with her patience and can-do attitude, she easily found many opportunities within the local area to help out and make a difference. In addition to being a writer, she’s held positions as a reporter for local newspapers and for eleven years, she worked as a teacher’s aide for children with developmental disabilities in the Wrentham School system. She recalls how rewarding it was to see the students learn and grow. “You had to be very patient; it sometimes took a long time, but when one of the students would learn something new, I felt as proud as if they were my own child.” A few years ago, while recovering from an illness, Rooney found herself in an unfamiliar situation – in need of help from the community. She was surprised to find that help coming from an unexpected source: people with developmental disabilities similar to those of the students she taught.
Volunteers from Alternatives’ Community Connections in Wrentham, a skills building program for adults with developmental disabilities, delivered food to Rooney through the Meals on Wheels program. But the connections with her volunteers didn’t stop there. One day, when the Alternatives’ volunteers were making a delivery, Rooney commented to one of the program’s staff that she was not able to keep up with her yard work since losing her husband a few years before. He informed her that Alternatives offers a landscape service and said he would check to see if they could help her out. The following Thursday, he returned with a crew of four individuals from Alternatives’ Employment Services, who also have developmental disabilities. They immediately started raking leaves and clearing debris out of the yard. Since then, the landscape crew has returned weekly.
The landscape service was created by Alternatives to provide greater employment opportunities to individuals the organization serves. “This is an example of a great cooperative relationship,” states John Tower, Job Developer for Alternatives. “Ms. Rooney gets inexpensive, reliable help and our individuals get much-desired employment in a job of their choice. Besides, the crew loves working for her. She is very supportive and appreciative of their efforts. She often brings out pitchers of ice water for them on hot days.”
“I look forward to seeing them, I really do. They’re helpful and they’re always happy and smiling. And I need smiles around me more than anything else,” comments Rooney.
(This article was submitted by Alternatives)