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My Turn

June 15, 2009

My Turn: Learning life lessons at Springbrook

This week's "My turn" column is by William Twasutyn, director of special programs at Springbrook.

As I drive to work each day, I think to myself that I have one of the most dynamic and interesting jobs around. What could be more interesting and exciting than participating in the ups and downs _ mostly ups, at Springbrook _ of a person's life? Multiply that by 550!

I have the good fortune of being the director of special programs at Springbrook, where we help support more than 550 unique individuals who range in age from 4 to 82 years. At Springbrook, we support individuals through their lifetime, including the last passage of life.

Springbrook, formerly known as the Upstate Baptist Home and later the Upstate Home for Children Inc., employs more than 800 staff who help the individuals we support to develop their potential and to live fulfilled lives. At Springbrook, we see the person as a unique individual first and their extra life challenges, diagnosed as a disability, second. We assist and support individuals who live with extra life challenges associated with their developmental disability or, as I see it, differently abled.

The abilities, interests and needs of the people we support are very diverse. We support individuals who may have a diagnosis of autism, Alzheimer's disease, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome and traumatic brain injury, to name a few.

At Springbrook, one quickly learns that we are all of equal value as human beings and citizens of the world. Any differences we may have as individuals only adds to the richness of our experiences within the Springbrook family. The more you work with people with any additional life challenges, the more clearly you see the individual as a person, just like yourself.

Over the years, I have always known that I get back so much more from the individuals we support than what I have given of myself. Early on, I came to realize that I was learning many life lessons, or lessons about humanity, in my work with our supported individuals.

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