Occasionally, people ask for descriptions regarding the type and number of clients served by A Brush With Kindness, ABWK. While there is a count for the number of elderly clients served (nearly 80%), and the number of families versus single individuals (75% versus 25%), statistics do not adequately describe a typical ABWK client.
For example, there is not a good statistical category for the client who lost her husband a few months ago to suicide. She had been a stay-at-home mom for their entire married life helping to raise the children. With her youngest now in college, this individual had a house in disarray due to her late husband’s tendency to start a project, like painting one room with 5-6 brush strokes on one wall, and then changing to another project like painting one section of trim in another room. Helping this individual requires as much planning for the emotional support as it did in identifying a scope of work. A number or a category cannot explain what needs to be done in helping this individual.
Then there is the client who was forced to give up her job to care for her family. She has an adult son with disabilities that require close supervision and she has little time, energy, or resources for routine home maintenance. In the past few months, she also has started to care for her older brother who suffers from early onset dementia. While ABWK gathers information on clients with someone disabled in the home, a statistical category for disabilities cannot portray the situation. There is nothing typical about our clients with special needs and a number in the category for “disabled” does not help in describing a typical client either.
We recently started a project for a disabled veteran. He and his late wife had been injured in a car accident several years ago leaving them both in wheelchairs. Many years ago, some kind and caring volunteers had built two ramps into his house to allow his access to his driveway and also to his yard. But over the years, the ramps had deteriorated and needed considerable repair. On his limited income, many needed repairs were overlooked and routine home maintenance was postponed until some neighbors became concerned about the quality of his life. Elderly, disabled, and veteran – his situation appears in three categories, but the numbers do not tell his story.
And then there is the woman who has lived in her home for nearly forty years. She raised her children in the home and even assisted with foster children. While she lives off her social security, her house frequently becomes the home for her children and grandchildren as they experience family issues and job layoffs. The number of people living in her house has changed on more than one occasion and has ranged from two to nine. Despite her own issues with home repair, her house is the only place for her family when they are in need.
Hip replacement, kidney transplant, knee replacement, heart attack, cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, asthma, these are only a few of the health issues mentioned by ABWK clients. These clients are also single, divorced, widowed, married, retired, unemployed, disabled, working. The only typical thing about an ABWK client is that they need help maintaining the home that they own.