Twelve years ago, I began my search for a place where Cami could live and thrive. Her twin sister McKenna was attending the University of Washington and her younger sister Chloe was an independent high-schooler. My 34-year marriage was coming to an end and I needed to go back to work. Though we had a steady stream of wonderfully capable young women who were able to help me care for Cami and give me a break, I still felt isolated and not fully able to participate in my other children’s events. I knew I needed to find a place nearby who could take over for the village of people who were helping me care for my daughter.
I stumbled upon DAHLIA Living (then called Helping Hands for the Disabled or HHFTD), while calling various agencies to enquire about placement. One of them suggested that HHFTD might be the most appropriate place for Cami and it was nearby so I would be able to visit often. With a gulp and a deep breath, I called and set up a meeting with the house manager. As you can imagine, I had so many mixed emotions, but as soon as I entered Halcyon, all of my apprehensions dissolved.
There were wonderful smells coming from the kitchen, the rooms were bright and clean, a beautiful long-haired cat purred against my leg, and happy residents watched TV and socialized in the living room.
The staff informed me that they had an open room and showed me a large bedroom with a shared bathroom that looked perfect. I didn’t know how it was all going to go down but I did feel like this was Cami’s home. Fast forward a few months and DSHS had approved her placement and Cami was able to move in.
In 2011, at age 20, Cami moved to Halcyon and was immediately dubbed the “baby” of the house by the staff and residents both because she was the youngest resident and because she looks very young for her age!
It wasn’t long before Cami knew her way to the kitchen, her place at the table, and her chair in the living room. She had a box of books and toys near her and lots of things to stimulate her. The staff quickly learned how to “read” her emotions and anticipate her needs. I knew that Cami was in a safe, supportive environment where she could have daily interactions with many people, not just me and a few respite caregivers. Her life was rich with the love and attention of the caring staff at Halcyon and the friendship of the other residents.
Over the past twelve years, Cami has fully integrated with the Halcyon “family” and it is truly her home.
Knowing that Cami is in a stable home where she is so lovingly cared for has given me the freedom to pursue a new job in Bellingham, WA, where the pace is a little slower and quality of life is better. Cami’s dad is living his best life in San Diego, CA and visits the PNW often. McKenna is a hot shot Solution Engineer at DocuSign and has recently joined the DAHLIA Living Board. Chloe has been inspired by her sister and the caregivers at Halcyon to pursue a career in Nursing and is attending the University of British Columbia’s Accelerated Nursing program. So as you can see, DAHLIA Living not only changed Cami’s life, but profoundly changed the lives of those who love her.