Empowering Dreams

This blog is part of a series on our mission statement. So to make a point, I will go back to one of my earliest blogs, the story of my friend Carl. One of our teammates a few years ago when I first shared this story predicted the end, but I promise not to mention that part today. I want to focus on his dreams.

Carl was a client in an ICF and I was the executive responsible for that program at the time he resided there. I never knew who said it but someone sent him to me because I had “power.” At the time when we met for coffee, Carl lived in an eight person home where he shared a room with someone he didn’t dislike — but also hadn’t chosen as a roommate. He had learned over the years to keep his most prized personal possessions in locked boxes in his room. He told me things had a way of disappearing; he had a plan of stopping that from happening and wanted my help. His dream was to have a place of his own, and in addition, he had other intentions as well:

  • He would keep working,
  • He would get a dog,
  • He would have a six pack of beer in the fridge,
  • He would have a bike,
  • He would set up his train collection for year round enjoyment (it was in his mom’s house),
  • And he would live alone and have no regular paid staff.

This dream sounded pretty amazing for someone who lived with 24/7 support, but I knew he could achieve it. Keep in mind part of his employment included cutting grass on a commercial John Deere tractor, and was already navigating two counties on public transportation! Carl’s dream was very specific. He achieved every last item with a little help of his mom, his friends, and at the end of his life, some paid professional support. I learned much later that he also had a dream of a shorter haircut; he saved that one for after his mom had passed away (she had very strong feelings about his hair).

Carl was natural dreamer, but not everyone is. Our job for those who have not yet imaged is to help them find their dreams. Carl’s dreams were not expensive, they were dreams of an everyday life of his choosing. Heck most dreams are!

Imagination can be inspired and it can be developed. What you initially imagine can be clarified. We need to discover the dreams of those we support. Some people have the dream but have not given it voice; for them we need to create the safe space for those words to be heard. Once we do, we can move onto the most fun part of our jobs; explore and mobilize until those dreams are made true.