“Things do not change; we change.”Henry David Thoreau, 1857
Thoreau was an individual who, much like Ironwood residents, spent long stretches of time in the Maine wilderness. Although this sentiment can be tied to various points through a resident’s journey, I find it applicable to the transition from the Farm House to the Lake House.
The Lake House program is a fairly recent establishment at Ironwood, launched around 2 years ago. It exists to give older, upper-level residents additional responsibilities, obligations, and freedoms as they prepare to begin their independent lives. Asking a Lakehouse resident what their favorite aspect of the Lake House is, he responded, “We can work on training Mufasa [the cat] to jump on tables.” Clearly, the Lake House also has room for comedy.
Roy, the Lake House Manager, described what the transition looks like to him, explaining, “When students transition to the Lake House, we get a glimpse into the future. During the first week, every student responds basically the same way: ‘I love it!’ they say. The extra privileges, though small, are a treat and every student is grateful for them.”
Keeping in line with Thanksgiving, Roy adds what he is grateful for at the Lakehouse, saying “I’m grateful to see the students that demonstrate high integrity, apply the skills they’ve learned, and learn so much about themselves in volunteer work, community trips, and the more life-like social environment of the Lake House.”
During a short visit, I was personally given the opportunity to see the differences in lifestyle. For example, I noticed that residents are tasked with creating their own nutritionally-balanced meals and are expected to maintain productivity despite free-time being at their discretion.
Although residents encounter circumstantial change when they transition to the Lake House, the biggest change that occurs is the change within themselves. Asking another Lake House resident what has changed for her since transitioning to the Lake House, she said “My work ethic . . . I’m more motivated and thorough.”
For many residents, living at the Lake House offers a more individualized program. Additionally, residents often feel as though they can maintain a higher level of initiative or responsibility at the Lake House. To earn your way there, however, one must already display maturity, willingness, and self-direction. Few realize that it´s not their program that had changed; rather, they´ve changed.
Farmhouse residents enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving this Thursday. Festivities included pie making, making Thanksgiving cards, and sharing moments of gratitude. For dinner, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, stuffing, carrots, and cranberry sauce was served. For dessert, residents enjoyed pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, and vanilla ice cream.
*This amazing young person (and author) will be heading home very soon and she will be missed. I remember meeting her for this first time not very long ago and what a transition! Today, she is confident, she is resilient, she has a deeper understanding of her impact to others and to her community and, most importantly, she has a renewed understanding and appreciation for the most important people in her life…her family. Have a nice weekend everyone and let’s all support one another as best we can. 😊