My grandmother once said to me: “What would you give to be like someone else?” …and I always refused to give anything because I don’t want to be like someone else.

Yesterday, when I was with Mr. J in the bowling alley, it crossed my mind: “I really should inform Street Nurses how we’re doing” …rest assured, the thought didn’t obsess me…I concentrated on the game and won…about time, because Mr. J won on all three previous occasions.

As to his new home, quite a success! He is for me the living example of what can be achieved with our volunteers’ work and your support: “work with somebody and make him/her stay under a roof”. Success can never be taken for granted.

I recall how he resisted, how after a walk he refused to go home, how in his hunkering after freedom he ran away all the time, how much time it took to “tame” one another. I remember your reaction when I sounded the alarm when after a transfer to another retirement home, he took off four or five times a week…the solutions you came up with when I had stopped believing that that home did him any good and I told you that “if he was my father, I’d get him out immediately”. You reacted like: “We’ll keep that option in reserve; perhaps we can do something different” …you then organized meetings with him, with the direction and involved me…you gave him psychiatric assistance… upon which the situation stabilized.

Tranche inside

Some years later he had to move again…with quite an administrative battle to make sure that he was transferred to a retirement home where he knew the staff, rather than a home “imposed by some CEPAS” where he would have completely lost his bearings…then also you were present at the social service…although he had been in a new home for several years…I pass on to you what he said to me one day, because it also concerns you: “you never let me down”.

It’s a long-term process; teamwork; but even without seeing each other regularly we can closely work together for a common goal: the wellbeing of the assisted persons…work that doesn’t stop at “we’ll give them a roof over their heads”. Ultimately, it’s a complete and well-considered project in which each participant can find a “raison d’être”. For that too I wish to thank you.

André, visiting volunteer


(*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.

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