May 2, 2022
|A feature of life for a healthy community of care is that the people we serve and their families get to spend their lives defining us. The people who contribute as paid professionals come and go. But the people who work here also define us as a community and some are epochal.|
Bruce W and Cherice L contributed so much to who we are that I fear no controversy saying that we would be different and less without their long tenures at Imagine. I don’t think their impact will fade, either. Bruce established our standard of loyalty. Cherice’s energy was an inspiration and remains our aspiration.
Bruce and Cherice had very different tenures at Imagine. When I arrived, 8 years ago, Bruce was already an example that some people, for the love of one individual, would stay in the caregiving profession for that client for longer than our compensation or any virtue of management could expect. He was with Scotty L for nearly 2 decades and nobody can doubt the love between them. Bruce’s dedication to Scott even guided Bruce’s activities outside of Imagine. When what are now Common Roots Farms and Coastal Havens Families were mainly just a plot of land on which a barn, a farmhouse, and hope had been built, I arrived one day to meet with the organizers and found Bruce there already volunteering. “This will be such a great place for Scott” was his explanation. Bruce finished two decades as a direct care professional in March. He is a paragon of the commitment without which, Imagine couldn’t be who we are.
Cherice spent most of her decade in management at Imagine, although if you forgot, she’d remind you she started indirect care. As a Facilitator, she worked directly on behalf of a dozen or more Imagine clients. She guided the construction of some extraordinary teams. The characteristic of teams that we learned to associate with Cherice was what Cherice called “ride or die,” women caregivers who would create positive, nurturing environments for women to thrive in. You could see it in Stephanie’s team and Dana’s team and Cindy’s team and Karen’s team. In challenging times for the client, the whole team was there and in the several emergencies of the last few years, you could see the dedication and the benefit.
In the first, the most dangerous, and frightening round of COVID, three of our four clients infected were on teams that reported to Cherice and the care was exceptional. One team refused to leave the client’s side and did so again when the same client was displaced by the CZU fire. Another client was served 24/7 with hourly health checks by one individual. The dedication was a testament to the extraordinary dedication of the direct care staff, but it was no coincidence that the dedication of the direct care staff reflected Cherice’s. Her competence in emergencies was always striking. In one of the many, many conference calls with Julie, Patty, Cherice, and myself, as Cherice laid out the emergency plans of COVID care, I remember feeling overwhelming gratitude that she was in charge.
Around the office, we called Cherice “Tigger,” after the Winnie The Pooh character. Whatever was happening, whatever hours she was putting in, Cherice bounded in with the same pugnacious positivity and energy. When we interview new staff or prospective clients or interested families, people who already know us always bring up the parties. It’s a big part of who we are. And it takes a lot of energy, because what we do normally already takes a lot of effort. Cherice and Drea were, in tandem, the source of most of the excess positivity, planning, and joy that have made our events what they are and Imagine what it is.
Thank you, Bruce and Cherice. You’re family forever. In fact, Imagine has your eyes.
-Submitted by Doug