Molly has visited Matthew’s House for a few years now. It’s been a joy to watch her grow from a teenager into a young woman. She tells a good “knock, knock” joke, enjoys baking and loves to make music. One of her favourite things to do at Matthew’s House is dancing to Dance 3 on the Wii. She loves the staff too; when asked who her favourite person is, she doesn’t hesitate.
“Maggie,” she says, referring to the assistant manager.
Her parents, Wes and Rietta, say that Matthew’s House has made a difference to their whole family. Molly has two older brothers and when their children were younger, Molly’s stays at Matthew’s House allowed them to do things with their boys that they might not have done otherwise. Now that the boys are grown, Wes and Rietta appreciate the opportunity to spend time together as a couple or just enjoy some personal time.
As Rietta (pictured above with Molly) reflects on their experiences, she talks about the importance of sharing joys and challenges.
We all need support. Our dream for all of our children is that they would grow up and experience adulthood in the context of a healthy community. Rietta, Molly’s mom
Community for their family includes church, extended family and friends, and the opportunity to work and volunteer. Molly lives with Down syndrome and has some social anxiety, so she needs more support than others might. When she was younger, family and friends were able to help with her care but circumstances change; grandparents get older, families grow, friends move away, so finding a safe, reliable place for her to stay was important.
“Matthew’s House has been a huge asset,” Rietta says. “There is great continuity of care and staff work hard at making it a home away from home for Molly. They try to give her the same room with the same bedding. That consistency is important to her.”
Molly has overcome a lot in life. She had surgery at the age of 4 months to repair a hole in her heart. In 2015, she had surgery to correct her scoliosis. She lives with social anxiety and is sometimes overwhelmed by loud, large groups.
Still, Molly enjoys the company of others and loves her family. Molly and Wes have a close father/daughter relationship. They enjoy spending time together, telling jokes and going to hockey games. Rietta finds joy in seeing Molly happy and content. She also sees the gifts that Molly brings to others.
“When I think about the pressures that society puts on young girls to look and act a certain way, there can be so much negative pressure,” she reflects. “But when Molly looks in the mirror, she loves what she sees. She’s very confident in herself and that is a gift.”
Helping Molly achieve some of her dreams has been important to her parents. When Molly expressed a desire to be baptized, they met with leadership at their church to help make that happen. Last spring, Molly graduated from the Mennonite Educational Institute. Her dream was to walk across the stage in cap and gown and to attend her prom. Rietta and Wes helped her reach both of these goals.
Today, they’re working at fulfilling another dream: to get Molly a service dog. This will help her achieve some of the independence she wants while keeping her safe.
As Molly makes the transition from youth to adulthood, her parent’s dream for her is to have her live independently in community with the support she needs. Rietta knows that this will mean help from the wider community but she also knows that Molly has a lot to offer others.
“How do we (as a community) support her to show her that we value her contribution?” she asks.
As they work at bringing this dream to reality, Molly will continue to visit Matthew’s House, singing and dancing, sharing her jokes, and hanging out with her friends.