Woody is well-known in his regular spots around town. When Patricia, his Support Companion, runs errands in her suburban Savannah, Ga. community, Woody is happy to come along. He has a smile and friendly words for everyone he encounters and can’t help but affect those around him with his positive attitude.
Patricia is one of Lutheran Services of Georgia’s host home providers in the disability services program, a program that places adults with developmental disabilities in residential settings. She has been caring for Woody for the last six years. Woody, 53, has been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disability disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mental retardation and cerebral palsy. But that doesn’t stop Woody from enjoying life.
“He’s very independent,” says Patricia. “He likes to do things on his own, and he will let you know when he can. He also knows when to ask for help.”
But Woody wasn’t always so independent. While under the care of Patricia, he’s improved tremendously. He came to Patricia from another service provider in Savannah, but before that he had been living in an institution in Augusta.
“When Woody first came to our house, he was very dependent on me and my husband. He wasn’t very positive. Each year he becomes more verbal and open,” says Patricia.
Now, Woody is known for his sense of humor. Patricia says, “Woody loves to make others laugh and loves to dance.”
It took a warm, patient, loving caregiver to bring that out of him.
Patricia has always had an open heart and an open door for those in need. For the last nine years, she has been a host home for LSG’s Disability Services program. However, she has been caring for people most of her life.
She raised six children of her own (four of them her children by birth and two were adopted). She’s worked in daycare and even owned her own daycare at one point. Before becoming involved with LSG’s program, she was a Foster parent for more than 20 years.
“I became a Support Companion with LSG because there was a need,” she says. She explains that she was inspired by a friend to do something positive. “My friend was at one time suicidal, but she turned her life around. Then she went into the special needs/disability field. She’s been a mentor and educator to me…That’s what made me want to be more into service.”
Woody has extensive medical needs, so a lot of what Patricia does for Woody revolves around his medical care. He has a list of doctors that he visits on a regular basis and requires a walker to get around.
As much work as Patricia puts into caring for Woody, what she gets in return is immeasurable.
A few years ago Patricia’s husband and Woody’s co-caregiver passed away. “Woody really helped me get through that. It’s been a joy to me to have him here. Losing my husband made me want to take care of him even more.”