Albert (Bert) has an infectious smile that you cannot help but notice. His happiness lights up the halls of St. Louis Center. Although life has not always been easy for Bert, he works hard and appreciates everything in his life with a gratitude that shines through his being.
Perseverance from a Young Age
Bert spent his early childhood in the foster system near Bowling Green, OH. From the young age of two months old he was in foster care, which was not always the best situation for him. Bert attended school regularly. When he was around 10 years old, he had a teacher, Pat, who would change his life.
He had behaviors that were showing his home life was not suitable for his needs. His social workers were working to get him out of that environment. Unfortunately, since Bert had always been under the system, the social worker said Bert would be gone in a couple weeks. In the time that he was in school he had become very special to Pat. She believes the “saints and the angels” were looking out for her and Bert that day. She looked at the social worker and asked, “How adoptable is he?”
In the state of Ohio, you have to have a child under foster care for a whole year before you can adopt them. So, Bert became Pat’s foster child. Inspections had to take place, and Pat’s home passed them. For Bert, he was happy as a clam, readily accepting being with Pat and his new family.
Shortly after Bert moved in, Pat’s husband at the time got transferred to the Lansing area in Michigan. Bert and his family made a big move and transition to a new part of the world. Because they were still within the first year of being a foster family, their case had to be under new supervision for the remainder of the year.
Pat enrolled him in the Beekman Center, and he loved school. Finally, the first year was over and Bert had adjusted well. Adoption day is a special memory for Bert and Pat. The Judge and secretary gave them a beautiful basket with fruits and cocoa. They told Pat how wonderful it was that they were adopting such a special child and wanted to give them a special gift. The best gift of all was Bert now had a forever family that loves him more than anything!
Perseverance in Adulthood
After turning 26, Bert graduated from Beekman. Community mental health put him on a waiting list to join their programing. As a single mom, teaching full time, Pat had to come up with ideas of what would be the next best path for Bert. Although he had a caregiver during the day who was wonderful to him, Pat knew Bert would benefit from something more structured. A church friend recommended St. Louis Center.
Pat and Bert interviewed at the Center and took a tour. They really wanted him to be a part of a day program where he could be working. In August of 1991, Bert moved to St. Louis Center. The first day he got his things together and moved into his room. He was able to go home the next weekend and was very happy. After taking him back he was upset, and it was hard for him to understand the new environment. It was a hard adjustment. It took about a year for him to be acclimated fully.
St. Louis Center is a wonderful place for him to be. – Momma Pat
Through St. Louis Center and their connection with Our Lady of Providence, Bert began working at the Our Lady of Providence Sheltered Workshop. He had jobs like sorting parts and other similar tasks. They had a pool at Our Lady of Providence which Bert Loved! There was a wonderful, compassionate staff at the Workshop and it was a sad day when they discontinued operation.
When they closed, a St. Louis Center social worker called and said they would try to get Bert into Community Mental Health. They accepted him, and he loved working there.
What Makes Bert Unique
Despite the challenges Bert has faced throughout his life, his heart remains full of love! His mom, Pat, who is known at the center to many as “Momma Pat”, brings love to everyone she meets. Together, Bert and Pat make a great team!
Bert loves to be at the Center with his friends and enjoys all the programing he participates in. Some of his favorite things to do are going out to dinner, seeing shows, and going to parks. Bert is always seen smiling and having the best time, no matter what he is doing. Two of his biggest loves are music and movies. The DVD player is his favorite device.
Bert looks forward to spending time with those he loves especially on holidays with his family. Pat works for two nonprofits and Bert loves to go to the office with her. He spends his time “at the office” shredding papers. He also enjoys visiting the family cottage on Higgins Lake. His favorite people include Mr. Rogers, Popeye, and ELVIS! Pat is hoping to one day schedule a visit to Graceland with Bert.
Perseverance is a perfect word to describe what happens every day at St. Louis Center, where residents with I/DD learn and grow while overcoming challenges that stand in their way.
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