Friday, December 07, 2007

Merry Christmas Vita

Right now I'm writing the blog as I sit in a hotel that was once a massive country estate house. It's buried deep in the south of England and sits on huge grounds. The windows in our room are impossibly tall, the decor precisely stubtle. Joe is bustling about getting luggage out to the car in preparation for the drive to the lecture site. We both can smell the smells of an English hot breakfast being cooked just down the hallway. This is as 'England' as this island can get.


I'm thinking about home. Today Vita, the agency I where I work as clinical manager, is having their Christmas party. For the month that I'm away on this trip, I'm in contact with at least one person from Vita every day. There are still programmes to review, questions to answer, opinions to give. Email has made it possible to still feel present to the organization and part of the action.

As I've been here in England, several organizations have heard about Vita's great experiment all ask detailed questions. It's vision to put protocols and procedures and practices into place in order to become abuse free. Even yesterday in London, I recieved an invite to come back next year to Cornwall and do a presentaion on what is now being called the 'Vita Model'. People shake their heads in wonder at the absolute courage of an organization to deeply look inwards and then work to change the corporate culture. One person said to me, "The organization did this voluntarily, they weren't forced?"

Yep, voluntarily.

It's not that we haven't hit bumps on the road. Made mistakes, big and little. Had to apologize to staff and members time and again. But, um, that's why it's called a journey. So, I'm proud of what we've done. I'm prouder still that we haven't lost the will or the focus.

But there is more than that, this year we have moved person after person after person from the institution to community. We sat in meetings and heard how 'impossible the person was' only to discover how deeply possible the dream was. People greet me in freedom when I last saw them in captivity. How cool is that. I spoke to an elderly man here about his days in a large institutions. "You can't believe what people did back then," he said, wiping at his eyes. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, "I can and I do and I'm sorry."

I wonder if our young staff know what a privilege it is to be here at this moment, a moment that is monumentous in the history of disability in Canada. Another province goes institution free - that's how the press sees it. 'An entire people is freed' that's how it ought t be seen.

So, this year, I'm missing the Christmas party and I'm missing being there. I'm missing my own team - abuse preventors, sex educators, advocacy facilitators - and I'm missing the larger team of Vita.

Merry Christmas all of you! Party hard. Listen carefully tonight and you hear a glass 'tink' to your health a few thousand miles away.


Anonymous said...

But just think maybe next year there will be two Christmas parties to attend thousands of miles apart but so close in other ways. Merry Christmas Canada and England!

Anonymous said...

Thank-you Dave. We all miss you and will be raising a glass in celebration tonight. We will cheer what we have done together, the difference each of us made and you will be a big part of that cheer. You and Joe will be with us in spirit that is for sure! A very Merry Christmas to all in England. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Manuela

Anonymous said...

I know it is hard to be away from home at this time of year Dave but you have challenged us - the possibility of abuse free agencies and actually making a difference in the experience people with learning disabilities have in working with our agencies. That strikes me as a good Christmas present - one that hopefully will last throughout a life time.

Anonymous said...

Well Dave.... i am sure you will be with us in Spirit if not in Body

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave! we will 'cheers' you as well! and don't worry... we will make sure that we party hard!

Amanda and Michelle from VITA

Anonymous said...

Thank You so much Dave for the wishes. We miss you and Joe and can't wait to see you both in the new year. I will definately 'tink' a glass for both of you tonight and one for you guys in spirt on the 14th :)


Lola said...

Hey Dave,

I wanted to thank you for today. The day was full of wonderful moments so thanks for your part in that.

Thanks also to Joe (mum's the word about the chips hey Joe). It was great to meet you both.

I came straight home to read your blog of the day, as what you told me about this morning was mulling through my mind for the day. I want to take this chance to congratulate you and the team at Vita for what has been achieved a goal that seems impossible, made possible.

I'm not sure if my recaction this morning as I was digesting what you were telling me presented as it should have so if it's not too late....... BATMAN BATMAN BATMAN!!!!!!!!

Lot's of Love

theknapper said...

Merry Christmas Dave & Joe!!!
Would it ever be possible to have an itinerary of your future presentations so that ones of us who are your fans/stalkers could plan to hear you speak?

Frank said...

Merry Christmas Dave

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave

I was at the presentation today and I can only say thanks to your colleagues at Vita for giving you up to miss the Christmas party!

I didn't realise I had so much to learn!

Thank you for my personal 'Batman' moment

And Merry Christmas to you and Joe - and of course the Vita crew.

Anonymous said...

hey Dave! hope your having a good trip... we missed you at he party but hopefully next year we will be able to party together! thanks for all your work at Vita and your dedication to our members I really appreciate you and all the things you have to teach us! Merry Christmas to you and Joe! -- Johanna V.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I write this to you as not just an employee of Vita but as an admirer. Each time I listen to or read your thoughts, words of wisdom and knowledge I raise a glass. (Shall I give you my AA bill? haha)
Thanks for all you do and most importantly....for being you.

Merry Christmas and safe travels...
Tracy T