Friends for L.I.F.E.
Patty finds purpose in programs, people
Patty Schulz wakes up sometimes as early as 4 a.m., so eager is she to participate in City L.I.F.E. programs at Southeast Campus.
“She knows she has a purpose,” said Mary Rogowski, the campus’ external site manager.
Patty, 54, of Cudahy, though, wasn’t always so willing a participant.
“In the beginning, she’d distance herself,” said Sarah McCure, Patty’s case manager.
That was in mid-2010, when Patty’s parents first brought her to the MCFI Bay View Campus to attend City L.I.F.E. programs, designed to help adults with developmental disabilities connect with the community, explore the city and develop new skills and interests.
“She participates in a variety of programs,” Rogowski said.
McCure said Patty participates in the health and wellness component of City L.I.F.E., which can include walks in the park and trips to health food stores. She also enjoys computer and art classes.
“She likes to take all her art projects home to show them to her parents,” McCure said.
Patty also participates in City L.I.F.E.’s expressive arts program, which is now making a mural, as well as its seasonal celebration program, which can include watching and discussing holiday movies and making seasonal decorations.
“At the beginning, she had a lot of trouble going to her classes,” said McCure. Patty was a little uneasy meeting new people back then. “Over time, she’s gotten to the point where she goes to the whole class.”
Rogowski credits McCure’s tenaciousness for that turnaround. “She devoted so much time to her,” she said. “Sarah never gave up on her.”
“I think it’s been a team effort,” McCure countered. “She has a big support network.”
That network had to devise ways to engage Patty, and plans to do that were reworked many times over. Finally they came up with a few strategies that worked: positive reinforcement and rewards – particularly time spent holding Cinnabon, a lion mane rabbit that joined the team last summer.
“The rabbit is part of the program for her,” said Rogowski.
Rogowski said Patty’s parents are amazed at the change in their daughter. Once a retiring woman who didn’t easily forge friendships, she now is more outgoing and has bonded with many at the campus.
“She has loads of friends,” said Rogowski. “There are certain people she’ll meet at the door.”
“I like to meet new friends,” said Patty, who jokes with staff and clients alike. “I like Mary, and I like Sarah, my rabbit and all my new friends.”
For more information about MCFI City L.I.F.E., please contact Nancy Pickett at (414) 937-2098 or send us an email.