Having the Time of His Life

Mon, July 30, 2012

I love when I can hear someone smiling on the phone.

It happened today when I spoke to Adrian, a 30-year-old who lives in a YAI group home in Queens. Since moving into the residence, Adrian's life has changed dramatically. He had lived with his mom, moving from place-to-place for many years, until January of 2010.

Adrian was hesitant about moving in, said Heather Dawson, the residential supervisor. "Adrian's life had been filled with uncertainly. And here was a chance to move into a home, and his response was "I need to think about it."

The decision was a good one, according to Adrian.

This past spring, Adrian experienced his first vacation. He worked hard at his job as a porter at Applebees in Queens, to pay for a trip -- a cruise to Bermuda -- with YAI's Leisure Trax program.

"It was a great experience," Adrian said, smiling as he spoke. "I loved touring the island and seeing the different colored houses."

Cassandra Reyes, another staff member who joined the trip, couldn't help notice Adrian's constant smile, joy and positive energy.

"He thanked the staff on the trip several times, and I reminded him that he worked hard and paid for his vacation," Cassandra said. "He earned and deserved this trip, he didn't need to thank us. The smile never left his face through the trip.

"He was the perfect traveler. He was willing to try new foods (including anchovies, I know I couldn't do that!). He made tons of new friends, both in our Leisure Trax group and other young adults on the ship."

But the event Cassandra said she will never forget was when the group went to the beach. "He told me he had never been on a beach before."

He played in the ocean and splashed around. He couldn't have been happier.

Everyone deserves to have those moments of pure joy and satisfaction. "I am so glad I was able to share that moment with him," Cassandra said.

And if you're like Adrian, you're probably smiling as your reading this.