As Keith walks through the door at DePaul’s OPTIONS day support center in Lynchburg, he raises his face, closes his eyes, and holds his arms out wide. He smiles and sighs, saying, “Ahh…I missed this place.”
After many months of missing each other, OPTIONS participants and staff members have reunited.
“It feels good,” said Darrell, who attends Roanoke OPTIONS. “I’m happy that it’s open and I’m looking forward to going out into the community.”
The long-awaited reunion comes after day support centers paused operations in 2020 because of COVID-19. The nature of the close, in-person work at our centers does not allow for social distancing. So, OPTIONS staff members thought differently about how to build connections and relationships outside a physical building. They mailed crafts and activities and letters to help them stay updated on participants’ lives.
The journey to reopen OPTIONS required conversation, consideration, and commitment. It was not easy, but it was worth it.
“It has been a long 19 months, but we are so excited to be reopening our day support programs and welcoming back participants,” said Pam Lewis, director of day support services. “The day support team has worked diligently to make this happen and we are all looking forward to the future.”
Rooms that sat empty are now filled with smiles and laughter. Games are being played, projects are being started, and relationships are being built and blossoming in-person. The world is still different and the centers are, too. But there is beauty in that choice being available to individuals who so often don’t get the opportunity to make their own choices.