Family Interrupted

Debbie is a loving and supporting sister to Robin, and wants only the best for her. She knows that for many of Rockbridge County’s disadvantaged and intellectually challenged, seeing a smile on someone else’s face is enough to make them happy or feel that they are part of something. She knows because her sister Robin is intellectually and developmentally disabled (“IDD”).

For 31 years, Debbie watched as Robin came home smiling and fulfilled after working at RAOC. She had the comfort that every family member wants: knowing that Robin was happy and in good hands with RAOC. But when RAOC’s last manufacturing client left Buena Vista, all of the light assembly work dried up as well. A major support system for Robin and Debbie was gone, overnight, leaving a gaping hole in Robin and Debbie’s lives.


“RAOC has been a blessing to our family and Robin’s life,”
says Debbie. “I would like to have my sister come back and
enjoy the
life she has had here (RAOC) for 31 years.”

“The RAOC organization has been part of our family for 31 years,” explains Debbie. “It became part of Robin’s life and she enjoyed coming to work every day.” Now all they can do is wait until RAOC opens its new Adult Day Services program.

Debbie_RobinIt’s hard to keep Robin down; she is always a happy person, no matter what, and she is still smiling. However, without RAOC, Robin tries to busy herself by cleaning house. Like many IDD clients, Robin still remains happy every day, no matter what she is doing.

“It doesn’t matter what Robin is taught…she will love it,” explains her sister, Debbie. “She has a very good memory and remembers things from years ago that family members cannot. She keeps our family on their toes.”

“She is never unhappy,” Debbie reminds us, “but has been sad for not being at RAOC. There is no question that Robin will not go anywhere else but RAOC.” Debbie explains that since RAOC closed the sheltered workshop, they have tried to take Robin to other places, but nothing can replace RAOC.

Debbie works, and her daughter and son both work, too. Their mother passed away six years ago, so the absence of RAOC as a safe and enriching daily environment for Robin is felt keenly by the family. Robin went through the public school system in the special education department and learned some skills; however, without RAOC, she can now only pass time in her house watching television, coloring or cleaning.

The Adult Day Services that RAOC will resume are Robin’s sole, future defense against crippling social isolation and loneliness. “RAOC has been a blessing to our family and Robin’s life,” says Debbie. “I would like to have my sister come back and enjoy the life she has had here (RAOC) for 31 years. She is willing to learn anything and has a great attention span. Once she is taught something, she has a great memory, so a 1:4 supervisory ratio that RAOC will offer will be highly beneficial to someone like Robin.”

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