Phyllis Tung, SBSLS Case Manager
“Wow! Who was that girl dancing to the song Little Apple? She was so talented!” asked my two kids when we watched 2019 FCSN talent show together nine months ago when I just joined FCSN. My friend suggested that I check out FCSN event videos to get myself up to speed learning about this special needs community. That was the first time I saw Becky on stage and quickly learned her name. Nine months later, fate brought us into each other’s lives. She is my client now in Supported Living Services (SLS)!
I still remember the first day I met Becky in person. Becky was a little bit shy and reserved a lot of her feelings. As time went by, we found that we shared a lot in common. We both like to laugh. Whenever we see something funny, we laugh and laugh and can’t stop until one of us says “Ok, ok we should stop laughing!” We both like to dance. Every Thursday morning in ADP exercise, we join with stretches followed by JUST DANCE. Becky likes to do choreography and invites me to follow along. I like to dance around her and encourage her to duet dance with me. We also like to make art and crafts together. We created a Pumpkin Princess decoration, a Christmas tree decoration, a Little Indian doll, and window pendants which remind us of our fun memories.
Besides these fun and beautiful times together, we have focused on building independent living skills. Cooking, house chores, daily disinfecting, personal hygiene, and social and emotional wellbeing are included in our daily schedules. Not only are these life skills helping her, but they also help her experience something new, to discover potential opportunities and possibilities for her life. For the first time, Becky hosted a virtual birthday party on her own on 12/14. We talked about what we needed to prepare for a birthday party – a guest list, a song list, a game list, a birthday cupcake, and invitation cards. With staff’s help, Becky wrote down her guest list, a total of 15 people including family members, friends from both South and Eastbay ADP, and staff. Becky researched online and found two games that she really liked. Becky also browsed YouTube to find four JUST DANCE songs. She even picked an Evite invitation herself! It’s a fun and unforgettable experience for both her and staff. After her virtual birthday party, I could tell that she was different inside out. She is full of confidence and willing to try new things, to take new challenges in her life!
Due to COVID-19 situation, there are three support staff members – Ann, Sophia and myself to cover Becky’s 24/7 schedules. Having a dream client is a blessing. Having a dream client and a dream team to work with at the same time are beyond double blessings! Ann and Sophia are fun, kind, and energetic persons willing to walk extra miles for Becky. Besides helping to host a virtual party for Becky, we three also held an in-person celebration for Becky’s birthday. Sophia brought a cupcake and we stood around Becky and sang “Happy Birthday” for her. I was deeply touched by my SLS staff’s loving gestures.
Ann, Sophia, and I didn’t really know each other before joining this team. Along the journey, we went through some ups and downs and a few deeper conversations regarding schedules and work ethics. But in the end, we all know we have a simple goal: “What is best for Becky?” Each one of us has strengths as staff members. We work not only as a team but also as a family to support each other. It’s our belief that love, patience, collaboration, and friendship provide solutions in SLS.
When asking Becky what does she most enjoys when working with support staffs, she smiled and said: “I enjoy cooking with my staff; my staff trains me very well, so I think I can be a chef in the future. Please call me Chef Becky!” When asking Becky what her birthday wishes were, she paused and said: “I want to thank my case manager Phyllis, teacher Sophia, and my teacher Ann. They are very cute. I know they love me very much, and I love them, too!”
Nine months ago, when I joined FCSN, I was thinking to love, support and have impact on our clients. Along this journey nine months later, I surprisingly find myself actually being the one who is also loved and supported by our clients. After only two months with Becky, I found my life and Becky’s life changed for the better; both of us have found the best version of ourselves.
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I modify this to fit my life: “The best way to find myself is to lose myself in the service of our SLS clients.”