Life lived at Mercer Home is meant to be lived to the fullest. Sometimes learning a new task makes for a celebration.
Mercer Home is one of nine homes providing services for intellectual and developmentally disabled adults in six communities across North Carolina. Like in the other homes, the residents living at Mercer Home in Sanford experience all the life around them, learning to do many things for themselves and grow as individuals.
“The men work toward what they are able to do, learning as much as each one can and at their own pace,” says Brandy Collins, manager of Mercer and Lanier Homes in Sanford and the ladies’ group home in Asheboro. “We help our residents discover how to be more independent, refining successes every day by reinforcing what is learned. It takes patience on both our parts, repetition, and care. It’s what we do here every day—and I love it.”
Learning becomes empowering. Staff members help residents discover ways to express themselves through acts of independence which leads to a greater confidence in themselves and their abilities.
John Willett has lived at Mercer Home since it opened in 2008. His late mother Jane Willett-Cromer was instrumental in bringing the homes to Sanford. Her now 56-year-old son is playful, willing to meet strangers, and is open to sharing his opinions—whether they were solicited or not. He is keenly aware of his “brothers” in the home. But mostly, he is inquisitive.
“I’m a coffee person,” says Brandy. “I’m not proud to say it but it’s best not to talk to me until I’ve had my coffee. The men know this. When I’m covering the cottage over night, I set the coffee
maker before we all turn in for the night to begin brewing coffee at 5:30 a.m.”
On a recent evening, John took an interest. He had seen others make coffee. The men drank morning coffee but suddenly he was interested in learning to make the coffee himself.
“First, he asked me how the coffeemaker worked—curious about every step,” remembers Brandy. “Then, he asked me if I would show him how to make the coffee himself—something most of us take for granted. He watched closely as I went through every step.”
John and Brandy began to do it together. It wasn’t long before John did it on his own. The two celebrated and high-fived each other. “I did it,” says John. “Look what I made. I did it.”
It was a task that was just out of John’s reach— something that was done by someone else, not him. With Brandy’s help, John became a little more independent, a little more confident, and a little more proud of what he can accomplish.
Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) intellectual and developmental disabilities ministry is about the residents. Staff members focus on helping them to become everything God intends. It’s more than a job, it’s a calling.
Brandy began her career with BCH six years ago as a qualified professional (QP), daily assisting the ladies at Asheboro Home. The single mom went from that position to also managing Mercer and Lanier Homes. Brandy has two school-aged children and depends on the love and support of her family, especially her mom and college-aged daughter.
“This is not an easy job,” admits Brandy. “It is not for everyone. It has to come from the heart.”
People who love this population love doing things with them and are willing to give of themselves. Servant-minded, passionate, hard-working people who are seeking a great mission career opportunity are invited to learn more at bchcareers.org.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children