Our Relationship with Time & Identity

Do For One is a relationship-building program that brings isolated people into greater community life. We selectively match one person with developmental disabilities (‘partner’) with another person who enjoys a more socially included life (‘advocate’). 

We then support voluntary advocates as they strive to understand, represent, and respond to the interests of their partner.

As Do For One relationships look forward to the fall season, crowded schedules and competing agendas is likely to be a challenge. Ruth Haley Barton asks, “To what extent do you feel you are arranging your life around what you say you want?” 

There is often a disconnect between what we truly want and what we actually end up doing. We treat life like an amusement park where bragging rights go to the one who rides the tallest, fastest, and scariest ride. We strap ourselves in and let the tracks (a.k.a. our calendars) dictate where we go.

Why does this happen? Our sense of self-worth is commonly wrapped up in external things that drive our decisions. Henri Nouwen breaks this down into three lies we tell ourselves about our identity: I am what I have, I am what I do, and I am what other people say or think of me. For example, you make ‘X’ decision because the result will be having more money, doing more important or prestigious work, and people saying flattering things about you.

Henri Nouwen was a catholic priest and writer who taught at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. After a lifetime of seeking, he finally found his home in Canada, as pastor of L'Arche Daybreak where people with developmental disabilities and their assistants live together in community. Henri Nouwen writes, “People with handicaps teach me that being is more important than doing, the heart is more important than the mind, and caring together is better than caring alone.”

I have found that many of my close friends with developmental disabilities don’t care all that much about what I have, what I do, or how popular I might be among peers. What they care about most is that my love for them is authentic and that I’m not too rushed to spend time with them.

Perhaps this is because people with developmental disabilities are often left with wasted time and potential due to a lack of support from those who are outside of the services system. Ben Drew, Founder of Open Future Learning posted this chart which illustrates the status of 236 people with intellectual disabilities who were visited at 8:00PM on Thursdays and Fridays. The homes were all in the community. They visited people who had lived at home, supported living, group homes, and nursing homes.

The results are revealing and very sad. 

 
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In this chart, we see the proportions of people’s status who have little to no opportunity to share their talent, gifts, wisdom, and friendship with. 

Do For One advocates respond to this time-wasting (a.k.a. life-wasting) issue by assisting their partners with job exploration or volunteer opportunities, developing a skill, finding a platform for a skill (e.g. poetry, music) or simply enjoying a particular hobby they both love.

As Mitchell Peters of Australia Citizen Advocacy says, “… advocates continue to cultivate the garden of potential of their (‘partners’). And in doing so, citizen advocates are demonstrating it is time for killing off the assumption that perpetually killing time is an acceptable fate for people with disabilities.” 

Our response? 

Being an advocate does not mean you’re being sent away to join Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity! Being an advocate does not mean you’re adding some thing to your schedule. Being an advocate means that you are inviting someone into your life. Being an advocate means that someone is inviting you into their life as well.

To make your commitment feel natural; consider your personality and schedule. Do you jog? Do you frequent museums? Are you good with budgeting or general life management? You might be surprised at how these ordinary skills and interests could be life-changing moments when you invite your partner into what you’d normally be doing anyway (or at least things you wish to be doing). Here are some examples we’ve seen advocates and partners do together.

  • Go to the gym

  • Go grocery shopping

  • Attend church

  • Budget finances

  • Watch a movie

  • Attend a wedding

  • Pray or talk on the phone

  • Walk the dog

  • Make homemade bread

  • Meet on lunch break for work

As we deepen our commitments, it is quite possible that what we truly want in life will become less and less at odds with what we actually end up doing. 

Yours, 

Andrew

True & Nonfictional: Life Experiences with Autism

Devon Ray Hillary is the author his autobiography titled, “Life Experiences with Autism and Mild Intellectual Disability.” He has his Bachelor’s Degree in Music at Nyack College. He plays the piano, organ, and keyboard. Featured in this episode is Devon Ray Hillary himself playing piano and organ from his YouTube Channel. 

Mentioned in this Episode: Three ideas. Three Contradictions. Or not 

Turning Toward Love: Communion, Compassion and Community

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In this episode you'll hear from Alexa, Jane, and Lenny as they share stories of transformation through relationships. As promised, see below for the words of Lenny's poem and Jean Vanier book recommendations. 

Do For One was invited to take part in an event hosted by Agora and Redeemer West Side titled, “Turning Toward Love.” It was a conversation between Amy Julia Becker and Andy Crouch. 

It was a conversation that invites us to respond to privilege with generosity, humility, and hope, and opens us up to questions we are afraid to ask, so that we can walk further from fear and closer to love, in all its fragile and mysterious possibilities.  

Jean Vanier books: From Brokenness to Community, Becoming Human, Befriending the Stranger

It Only Takes Two (or a few)

by Lenny Dominguez

Relationships don't always work out as it is, because we can all break apart from each other.

People Run 100 Miles & Everywhere They Can To Be in a Relationship With Anybody They Want To Be With & Share Their Love With.

New York City can be such a drag. In my group home, people go to programs during the day and don’t hang out with friends that much. 

I don’t know if many people feel that way, being lonely. Do you feel that way? Like you’re stuck on an island?

Relationships Need To Settle The Score Without Hate Inside Your Own Skin & It Only Takes Two People Or A Few People To Confess & Be Truthful.

I have been such a wonderful guy who is always looking for ways to come across and meet new people.

When I met Jesse, it was at the Do For One party and was the middle of Fall, before Halloween. We just talked about different things that we liked…Pokémon, rollercoasters, pizza and so on. He works at Columbia University. We share a lot of laughs.

On my birthday, we went to Harlem Tavern and I ate a hamburger and french fries and that was so good.

I remember when we played Super Mario Party with his roommates Kyle and Conner and his girlfriend Sarabeth (she sucks at video games). That was really fun!

When  I think of my friendship with Jesse, words I think of are wonderful, laughable, and togetherness. We kinda stick together like glue. 

I’m excited to see the Pokémon movie together.

Relationships Are An Everlasting Love & It Lasts Forever from Sundown Until The Break Of Dawn.

People Need To Come Together As A Family, Find Peace & Work Together So They Can Bring Justice Around The World. What would justice look like in New York City, or in my home? What do you think?