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Tandem Tribune Tandem Northwest

November – December 2016

What’s New?

Read here about what’s new with TNW and our featured Client Profile! Sometimes it’s difficult remembering your past. You may recall little bits here and there; certain things stick out for some reason and you may, or may not know why. This is true for Donald. I had the opportunity to sit down and get to know him on a more personal level. I learned that he is quite the comic, is a huge Oregon Ducks fan, and loves Christmas; I also learned some important details of his life as well. Donald Kamm was born in October in California and has lived in 5 different group homes throughout Oregon. He does not remember his parents, however is able to recollect just a few memories of his mother. He shared with me a time when his mother was driving a UHaul truck from North Carolina to Roseburg, OR. When asked why they were traveling so far, he simply said: “that’s what they had to do, they had no place else to live.” The only other time he mentioned his mother was random,

Hannah Ott Meaningful Life Board ••• Tandem is introducing a new idea! Located in the main office is the Meaningful Life Board. This is a great resource for staff and clients to find new and exciting volunteer and event opportunities in the community! We invite all to come down and check it out. The Meaningful Life Board will be used to help clients discover opportunities they may not have ever considered; ways to go outside of themselves and

yet extremely heartfelt; he said “She loves me all the time.”

find meaning and purpose

We started to talk about Christmas. As I mentioned earlier, Donald

humans have a great desire

loves Christmas. He is very opinionated when it comes to trees, though. H: “What kind of tree do you like in your home, Donald?” D: “Has to be a fake tree. No real trees. Those are too messy. Fake tree is much easier to clean up.” When I asked him what he wants Santa to bring this year, he said: MONEY! He claims that he just wants to save up all of his money, and once he is done saving it, he simply said he would “Save some more.”

in helping others. We as to feel needed and necessary. This is the perfect way to do just that. So please, come and check it out; who knows, maybe you will find something that interests you as well.

Last year, his Residential Coordinator helped him send a fax to Santa with his entire Christmas list, and actually received a phone call from Santa Claus! I asked him about this, and he told me that was true, and this year for the Tandem Holiday Party (which will be held at his home) he wants to dress up as Santa. Donald is a very passionate guy. Similar to his passion when it comes to Christmas, he is also quite enthusiastic when you get him talking about Sports. Don’t even try to vouch for your own team (especially if it’s a team rival) because you will lose the argument. As I mentioned before, he is a huge Oregon Ducks Football fan, and also enjoys watching Nascar Racing and wrestling. Among his other many interests, he disclosed to me that his dream job would be a flat-bed truck driver, and would love to be able to own a chainsaw to chop wood with. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Donald and the funny answers he provided me. He is an extraordinary guy and has a lot to offer the world, just like our many other clients. Donald will potentially be one of the first clients to use the Meaningful Life Board; I let him know that there’s a volunteer opportunity to chop and stack wood (which he loves) while possibly getting to use a chainsaw under supervision. Everyone at Tandem cannot wait to see where opportunities such as this can take Donald.

Upcoming Events! November 1st – November 23rd: Tandem Canned Food/Thanksgiving Drive (Sponsored by Table of Plenty) December: Tandem Giving Tree (Sponsored by Family Building Blocks) December 9th: Tandem’s Annual Holiday Party at Shoreline 2!

Behind the Scenes at Tandem…

Here at Tandem, we like to think that our focus on Meaningful Life is what sets us apart from other organizations. We as humans have a hunger to feel needed and necessary; our clients are no different. It’s more difficult for clients to find meaning in life when staff and organizations are constantly assisting them with every-day tasks. It’s not that assisting is a bad thing! It just takes away from the feeling of having purpose. That is why we are working with one person at a time, to focus on each individual’s special skills, to help them find purpose and meaning. Right now, we are working with a very special lady whose identity we will keep private. Let’s call her Mary. Mary was born quadriplegic and has never been able to speak or move much. For the longest time, there has been a huge misconception about clients like Mary; people wonder if [Developmentally] Disabled individuals have the brain capacity to understand what people without disabilities do and say. It’s always been that way for Mary especially. For the first time in her life, she is learning how to communicate! We are just in the beginning stages, but have already made some amazing progress. It will take patience, but we have no doubts that Mary will be able to communicate with others in time. Each week we are able to talk with her to figure out what her “language” is. For example, we are asking her things like: -If you can understand me, lower your head -If you can understand me, close your eyes. Everyone (even non-verbal people) have special ways they communicate. For Mary, small movements indicate different things. We are working to pin-point which movements mean what. We also have the opportunity to use some amazing technology and equipment, with some help from two great speech therapists. In each addition of the Tandem Tribune, we will have a section dedicated to telling “Mary’s” Story. Sharing special and personal triumphs of hers, and prove that just about anything is possible!

Nurse Sandra’s Tips for Staying Healthy this Season! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9.


Wash your hands often with regular soap (not anti-bacterial) as well as the people you are caring for. Drink plenty of fluids and eat fruits and vegetables at least daily; preferably 3 times a day. Get 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Clean your phone off at least twice daily (the surface of your phone is dirtier than a toilet seat). When you flush the toilet, the bacteria disperse through the air onto surfaces in the bathroom such as uncovered toothbrushes, even if you shut the lid. Clean shopping carts with the wipes provided at stores prior to shopping with them. If you’re sick, running a fever, have the runs, are vomiting, stay home! Many clients have compromised immune systems and should not be exposed to illness. While you may think you’re “powering through” your illness, you are actually exposing those around you, making the staffing issue a larger issue. The recommended plan is to stay home for 24 hours after the fever is normal. Do not sneeze or cough into your hands, but in your inner arm by the bend, or a tissue. Wash your hands after. Do not think wearing a mask will be sufficient; a mask is only effective as long as it’s dry. If you are coughing/sneezing for more than 10 minutes, it will become moist and be useless. Stay home if you need a mask to protect others around you. Get your flu shot unless it’s not recommended for you (egg allergy) or against your personal belief, etc.

KAREN’S STORY At Tandem, we believe it takes a very special kind of person to be able to appreciate and supply our clients with the best care possible. A perfect example of this type of individual is Karen Polomsky. Karen has worked with TNW since April of 2016. Even though 7 months might not seem very long, the impact she’s had on clients, and the impact our clients have had on her, will be life-long.

Karen, one of six children, was born in Ohio. Her family had never been very close or affectionate, but all of that changed when her mother became sick and passed away when Karen was just fifteen years old. Being so young, Karen holds memories of her mother very close to her heart. When I asked about her favorite memory she said it would have to be when her mom would sing a particular song to her. K: “My mom would play this song on the piano, she didn’t know the whole thing, but she would play it and it was called: ‘Gonna Find Me A Bluebird’. It was originally written to be played on a guitar. It was written by Marvin Rainwater, it was a guitar song. Anyways, I remember having the sheet music and she told me, ‘You better be careful with that.. it’s gonna be worth something, someday’. I don’t think it’s worth anything at all, but it’s important to me. I have it somewhere in my records, in my vinyls. I have a piece of the music (the parts that she knew how to play) tattooed on me.” Karen shared that she is sadly no longer in contact with her family due to differences, but ended up moving to Oregon to be with the one sister who is in the same situation as her. When Karen was working at Walgreens in Oregon, one of our Residential Coordinators was standing in line with a client, and noticed how well Karen interacted with the client. She immediately gave Karen her card and said she should definitely apply with Tandem, because she’s just what we needed. She had some previous experience in caregiving; working with a patient who had Dementia as her most recent job, and after they passed, Karen swore she would never try caregiving again. However, after our Residential Coordinator approached her about applying, Karen gave it some thought, and after a while she applied and got the job! Besides working at Tandem, Karen really enjoys helping run the Saturday Market, being crafty, and over all, helping people. When asked what house she enjoys working in most, she said Manbrin, because it’s a challenge and she enjoys the clients there. She also mentioned that being On Call is the most rewarding thing for her, because, “there are so many open shifts that need to be filled, and being able to be called in when someone really needs your help is extremely rewarding and fulfilling.” She said she also enjoys her position because it allows her to see more of the company and our clientele. She loves connecting with people; especially people who need a little more help than others. Karen shared her most meaningful moment with me.

K: “I was holding my client’s hand, because he was calling for his momma, he’s nonverbal, but he was obviously uncomfortable and wanting his mom, so I held his hand and when he said he wanted his momma, I looked at him and said I wanted mine too. And he got quiet and looked me dead in the eyes and squeezed my hand and pulled it up to him like a teddy bear, and I cried and cried… I just lost it. But he was quiet afterward and I feel like I reached him. That’s the stuff that you live for.”

Karen has such a passion for our clients, and people in need, that her five-year goal is to have good enough credit to be able to purchase a large lot of land. Her dream is to build little homes and hopes to collaborate with Tandem Northwest, a company similar to Tandem, or Homeless Shelters to allow people to work the land, harvest crops and sell them. She wants them to be able to live for free essentially, and feel a sense of purpose by doing so.

With the help from people like Karen, Tandem Northwest hopes to change the way people see Developmentally Disabled Individuals. We want to alter the “glasses” in which people view those who are “different” than them.

The Tandem Tribune - November 2016  
The Tandem Tribune - November 2016  

The Tandem Tribune - November 2016