Rick Z. came to Center for Social Change nearly twelve years ago in a way that is not so typical. Rick had been receiving supports for another provider agency in Carroll County, but he had decided that things weren’t going so well, and that he wanted to move. While individuals and their families typically meet with providers and determine which program might be the best, Rick was simply directed to Center for Social Change as the provider of choice. Fortunately, that move has worked out well for all, and Rick, his family, and those of us at CSC are equally happy with the outcome.
Clearly, at least to Rick’s parents, Rick’s enthusiasm about working in CSC’s fully equipped greenhouse is what gives them the most happiness. Prior to Rick’s coming to CSC, mom reports, Rick wasn’t exactly the most dedicated worker. In fact, she recalls that when she would ask Rick to assist with raking the lawn of the family home, the rake would “somehow end up broken, unable to be used”. But his attitude about work has changed dramatically, apparently due to his opportunity to work in the greenhouse doing something that he loves. Rick loves this work, and he can’t talk about his experiences enough with his parents. During the planting seasons, Rick will call his parents’ home almost nightly to give them updates on the begonias, watermelons, or other plants that he is caring for. Perhaps Rick’s love of greenhouse work is really “in his genes”, as his grandfather once owned and operated a greenhouse when he was a younger man.
Rick also has a tender spot for his goldfish, which he raises in an aquarium at home. He uses some of his earnings at the greenhouse to make purchases of the newest and most unique fish for his collection. He has even raised fish in the small pond in the miniature golf course that is part of CSC’s grounds.
Rick’s parents did not always think that Rick would achieve such goals. When they had been told that he would likely develop only to the level of a seven year old, they had little reason to doubt the “experts”. But, today, they note, with pride, that those meeting Rick for the first time probably wouldn’t even realize that he had any disability at all. Perhaps it is Rick’s winning smile and his striving for personal success that allows others to see the best of Rick.