"See you tomorrow and have a good evening” are words Ron Bennett speaks daily as he clocks out from his job at Easterseals Capper Foundation, a job he never thought would be possible twenty-one years ago.
Ron spent the majority of his life being transferred from one state hospital to another, suffering from mental health and behavioral issues, including severe struggles with depression.
In 1981, Ron was introduced to two individuals: Dale and Kathy Stiffler, who would help provide Ron with the path to greater independence. They wanted to implement a plan that better fit Ron's individualized needs. Dale Stiffler, Operations Director of Adult Services at Easterseals Capper Foundation (ESCF) recalled, "After spending many years with Ron, we believed if we could get him into his own space and give him a chance to have a plan focused on his needs, he would be successful living and engaging in the community."
Dale and Kathy's plan was later put into action and for the first time Ron would be living outside of an institutionalized setting, living in his own house, with his own room and his own possessions. Kathy Stiffler, Senior Vice President of Adult Services at ESCF shared, “I will never forget when Ron and I first went looking for a house for him to rent. We looked at house after house and Ron didn't like any of them. I finally asked him what was wrong with the houses. What is it that you’re looking for Ron? He looked at me and said 'I want a house with furniture!' Living in an institution his entire life, he didn't realize that houses didn't come with furniture and this was a real eye opener for me being his peer, how different we both saw the world we were living in."
Since gaining access to more independence, Ron has seized every opportunity to reach his full potential. He has enjoyed a variety of employment opportunities, including the Capitol Plaza Hotel, working in housekeeping and Olive Garden, washing dishes and greeting everyone with a smile.
An avid sports fan and a loyal Kansas City Chiefs fan, Ron tunes in regularly on Sundays during football season. He also likes cooking and the company of others, but one of the favorite things Ron enjoys, is the opportunity to slip away and have the freedom of some peace and quiet.
Ron has made some very special relationships along the way. Charles Momanyi, a Direct Support Professional for ESCF has worked within Ron's residence for over fourteen years assisting with everyday tasks. While Charles has helped Ron with tasks like going to the grocery store or help prepare meals over the years, they have created a bond much deeper, becoming great friends to one another.
Charles shared, "Ron is like a brother to me. I have known him for many years and he has taught me a lot of things. He has taught me how to treat other people with compassion and how to be a better person. He is always willing to try new things."
Recently, Ron has set out on a few new adventures, he has taken up gardening and started a new job through the on-site employment offered at Easterseals Capper Foundation. Chris Ostrander, Adult Day Services Manager, shared, "Ron came to me and asked if I could show him the different areas where positions were available." Ron now works in the wood shop, sanding and painting wood products that are made available for purchase in the Capper Creations Gift Shop. Ron shared, "I love working, earning my own money and being independent."
Ron has grown and settled into a life of his own. He now has a girlfriend and no longer needs the assistance of others to do his laundry or to push him in his wheelchair. Kathy shared, "My hope for Ron is that one day, he will be able to live in a house with his girlfriend and know the companionship so many of us take for granted."
We believe every person with a disability should be given the support they need to participate fully throughout their lifespan and achieve their dreams.
Teamwork makes the dream work! With the help of Easterseals Capper Foundation, Ron has come to know life outside the walls of an institution and continues to push himself to thrive and like many others, make incredible improvements.
Your wonderful support of Easterseals Capper Foundation helps us make profound, positive differences in people's lives every day. Our services would not be possible without the caring and compassionate support from friends like you.
There are many more individuals who need our services, so please consider a generous contribution to help others, like Ron, participate fully in life and achieve their dreams to be all they can be. Thank you for your partnership and support, it makes such a positive impact and you will feel good about giving!
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