To Victoria (known to her closest friends as Vicky), an ideal day includes writing, cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with friends. For most of her life, she did not live in a setting that gave her the freedom to do her favorite things or have close friends to share in those experiences. Before moving to DePaul’s Waynesboro group home in 2016, Vicky cycled through multiple residential programs for more than 20 years; her experiences ranged from unsuitable to unsafe. From the first moment Vicky and her sister, Sam, walked into Harvard Home, they felt themselves relax. It was a family home—there was nothing sterile or institutional about it. “It was a great relief,” Sam said. “Vicky deserved it, and it was perfect.”
While Vicky finds it challenging to communicate her needs, she readily and easily conveys her feelings. “For the first time in her life, my sister has friends,” said Sam. “When she used to come home for visits, Vicky’s first question was ‘Do I have to go back?’ Now her first question is ‘When do I get to go back?’”
“For the first time in her life, my sister has friends.” – Sam Marshall
Active and lively Vicky now enjoys the social life she’s always needed but never had. She is friends with both her fellow residents and the DePaul staff at Harvard Home. “When you have employees that genuinely enjoy their work, they do it well,” Sam emphasized. “I think that’s the biggest difference from where she’s been to where she is now.” Vicky also attends DePaul’s Fishersville OPTIONS day support program which gives her plenty of social opportunities and interactions with the community.
“What makes life full is that we get to live it alongside the people who love us no matter what,” said DePaul President and CEO Amanda Stanley. “I had the honor of enjoying a meal with Vicky during a holiday celebration at Fishersville OPTIONS. Vicky was happy! She ate, talked, played, opened gifts, and danced—all with people who care about her deeply and for whom she cares. I was in awe. This is the heart of DePaul.”