Our current board member and former staff member, Suzanne McCudden, practically grew up at DAHLIA. We asked her to share her memories of Trail House.
Have you ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort? You go and don’t have to worry about very much - meals are provided, entertainment, room service… I kind of think the residents might feel that way about Trail House. The staff take amazing care of their residents - assisting them with all of their daily living needs, fun things to do, and on top of that, helping them accomplish goals and wishes they have.
This Trail House family began because there was a need for kids aging out of the foster system, who also needed the continued support of caregivers. Trail House answered the call, and is the home to some very lucky individuals who landed safely there, and now call it home. Caregivers receive training and support they need to be the best they can be for the residents. They take the time to get to know each resident and what their particular needs are. There is no one size fits all when it comes to taking care of another person. For the people who stay in this line of work long-term, it’s about much more than the job, it’s about the why. My why when I was a caregiver, was about helping, being a friend, and being a rock and stable for individuals who completely rely on caregivers for their quality of life. I can’t express enough the importance of the caregiver in this world.
On the flip side of the positivity I wish to share - It’s not easy being a caregiver, in fact some days it’s not easy being a person at all. Every resident comes with their own unique challenges, as do the people who care for them. One of the hardest things to do when you’re having an overwhelming, can’t get your own life in order kind of day, is to go and be responsible for cleaning, cooking, and caring for another household. It really isn’t easy. But, in all my time at Trail and the other DAHLIA homes, I worked with people who were actually energized by it. They knew they were helping, they were doing the good work of helping people who really needed it, and it was worth it. And colleagues had each others backs, and made it easier on each other as much as possible.
Let me tell you what happens when I close my eyes and think of Trail House. I think of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, delicious food cooking in the kitchen, staff chatting and smiling and doing activities with the clients, the residents smiling huge, and Kiyomi sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag in a snow storm, to name a few!
It’s been some time since I worked at Trail House (over 7 years!) and it amazes me how little it has changed. The location has changed, but the feeling hasn’t. It’s still a loving and caring atmosphere that makes it feel like home with family. I think anyone who knows her would agree, it wouldn’t be what it is without Kiyomi. Always welcoming, always selfless, and always giving 110% to the residents and staff. There isn’t a person on this planet that she wouldn’t help if they needed it.
As I write this, I’m realizing that what Trail House is (and Champion House, Visions & Halcyon) is an all-inclusive home. Everyone is welcome, it’s safe, stable and nurturing, and the idea of working hard and caring at the same time is not something that has to be fought for. Even better than an all-inclusive resort, because this amazing place is home, not just a week-long get away!
I’m very proud that I have spent so much of my life with DAHLIA in it. And it’s never too late to get them involved in your life! Just think about it - and maybe one day you’ll be writing an article about how much you love this place too.