Whenever anyone calls the Oasis Clothing Bank to arrange their FREE clothing pick up more often than not, the person on the other end is the lovely and congenial Fiona Conely. Last week Fiona won this years VHA Heart of Home Care Award, and while last weeks’ blog touched briefly on the VHA and Fiona we felt that we wanted you all to know Fiona as we know her, and why she was so deserving of this award.
OM : Who nominated you for this award, and how did you find out?
FC: My best friend Madelynn Cooper who I’ve know since I was four years old nominated me, and she had to tell me because she needed my permission for the nomination. I thought at worst I’ll get a free lunch, and at best I’ll win! Madelynn was my plus one. She has been there since the beginning, she is one of my solids, she is part of my village. When you have a child like Jason, you need to have your village around you or else you can’t do it.
OM: Why do you think she nominated you?
FC: Because she has been there since Jason was born, seen me struggle and fight for Jason, because she loves me, because she knew I could use a pick me up.
OM: In the VHA Heart of Home Care video we see what a positive attitude you have, and how happy Jason is, how do you keep that positive momentum going?
FC: I have my days, but I just try to pull the good stuff out of my life, that’s what helps me get through, that and my village, or my solids. And with Jason I think because of his developmental issues, I don’t think he realizes that he is not suppose to be happy. This is a blessing because I have dealt with and grieved for all of the things he will not be able to do for himself so he never has to.
OM: I know that Jason is in high school and is graduating this year, is he going to the prom? Does he have a date?
FC: Oh yes! In the last year I have heard nothing BUT the prom. He is so excited. Jason started high school six years ago and asked my friend Jennifer Crowe to go with him, she said yes of course! This weekend was hard for me because it was the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing, and Cathy Crowe Jennifer’s aunt, another one of my solids in my village, kept Jason busy doing arts and crafts. They helped him make his boutonniere and Jennifer’s corsage for their prom, he had a great time.
OM: Jason is 21, what is the next phase?
FC: I have to start looking for a residence for him, I can’t keep doing this, my body at some point will give out on me. This worries me, because I have to find a place that will be safe for him, one that I can trust. My biggest fear is that he will be taken advantage of, or abused and he won’t be able to tell me. How do you have a conversation about good touch and bad touch and make sure he can tell the difference? This is my biggest challenge.
OM: Anything else you want us to know?
FC: Yes, my son is a very loving boy, I get hugs and kisses from him all the time, our bedtime ritual is the same every night. I ask him “Who loves you?” and her replies “You do. I ask “Who loves you forever?” and he replies “You and Grandma” and then I reply , “You betcha buddy”. I feel unconditional love always.
In the coming weeks and months Fiona will have to make some very difficult life changing decisions, but for now Jason is like any other high school grad getting ready for the prom, looking forward to a night that has been six years in the making. It is clear that without her “village” Fiona and Jason’s life would have been different, and perhaps it would have been harder for her to “pull the stuff out to help get through the bad stuff”.
We hope that this helped you see Fiona as we see her, and perhaps motivate you to reach out to someone in your life who needs help and become part of their village.