Above: Debbie relaxes at McKim House a couple years ago. The reflection below is written by Moira Wilson, a board member and volunteer who cherishes a friendship with Debbie.
As a board member and volunteer with L’Arche Saint John, my life has been touched in so many amazing ways by this wonderful community of friends.
When I reflect on the impact L’Arche has had on me, it is embodied by the very warm greetings always extended to me by former McKim House core member, Debbie.
Whenever I arrived at McKim House, Debbie met me with a big hug, saying “I love you.” After such an encounter, how can one’s day not be better?
Debbie would then remind me how much she loved the boots gifted to her by my sister-in-law and would remind me to thank her on Debbie’s behalf. This exchange would happen a couple of times a month over a period of three years. I could count on it as well as the happy feeling it infused in me.
As the mom of a son with an intellectual and developmental disability, I have long understood and valued the opportunity to appreciate the simple things in life from my son’s perspective.
Anyone who has been the recipient of a hug from Debbie or has seen the world through my son’s eyes will understand what a gift it is and how much we can learn. It has always mystified me why society tends to marginalize those with disabilities who are so rich in these gifts.
Imagine for a moment how much happier we would all be if we could put aside our inhibitions and regularly said “I love you” to those who matter to us; if we could bask in warm appreciation for a small gift that continues to be treasured; if we acknowledged and celebrated a person’s attributes that so endear them to us?
L’Arche Saint John is on a mission to build an inclusive community and I am so grateful to be on this journey with them. Keep doling out those beautiful hugs, Debbie – and be patient with us, as we still have so much to learn!
Board member and volunteer
Debbie lived at McKim House from 2005-2021 and now resides in a wonderful nursing home most suitable to her care. She remains an important part of our community.
My first encounter with Debbie was in early days when they had the " Friendship Circle" in the basement of the house.. Debbie was the first one who to call me “GG” and the day she called me by my proper name I was in awe.. She is has often asked me to come anytime we will have a tea and chat her and “RICY” and the three of us would have a great time just chatting.. I remember the time I had the whole community come to my new place and take their time and write me prayer for my prayer jar which I still have to this day and Debbie prayer went something like bless the toothbrush, bless the toothpaste, bless the chairs, bless the people, bless you the salt, bless the food..she pretty much anything and everything that was in my apartment and at the of her blessing she wrote BLESS G.G I mean Jeanette