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Ordinary People

by Victoria Bruno
| April 19, 2010 9:00 PM

Like a lot of folks, Diane has a calendar. When she sees an event that catches her attention, she marks it down and is careful to get the date, time, and location correct. Just like you and me, she anticipates the event as the day approaches and starts to prepare for the occasion in small ways. Dancing is one of her favorite things to do.

Diane also likes going out to dinner. She plays bingo, goes bowling, and enjoys movie dates with friends. She writes all of these activities on her calendar, just like you and I do when we plan to attend a future event. What's different about Diane's calendar is that it takes up the better part of a wall. It's the kind of calendar kept in most corporate or government offices. Many of the events Diane attends are ones that she had a hand in initiating and planning.

Diane participates in Specialized Needs Recreation, a program that operates in partnership with the City of Coeur d'Alene's Recreation Department. SNR is funded by the cities of Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Hayden, and Rathdrum. It's a nonprofit organization that provides recreational opportunities to people who have developmental disabilities.

As her sister Nanette Trimpe tells it, SNR gave Diane a whole new life. Diane had lived with her parents in the small town of Williamston, Mich., until her 40s. She had been employed for 25 years - first at a bank filing checks, and later at a dental company, stocking shelves and packaging materials. When the company moved out of state, there was nothing for Diane to do to fill her days. She spent most of her time alone.

First their mom, and then their dad, passed away, so Nanette moved Diane to Coeur d'Alene. Nanette and her husband were just ordinary family members, trying to cope with an extraordinary challenge - providing a home for a developmentally disabled, adult sibling. Losing her job, coping with the death of both of her parents, and then moving to Idaho, had all been quite a change for her.

Nanette found out about occupational opportunities for Diane by visiting with staff members at TESH, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide opportunities to people of all ages seeking independence and participation in their community. It was through TESH that she found out about SNR.

"When I drove Diane to the first activity, she cried the whole way there," said Nanette. "She didn't know what awaited her and was terrified."

Nanette explained that Diane had been away from public interaction for so long that new social situations were frightening. "As soon as she met the staff and the participants, though, she was delighted!" Diane told Nanette that she liked the program and went again and again. "She has such a good time, and it's a safe place for her to go," says Nanette.

Specialized Needs Recreation provides a place for personal growth and opportunities for friendship. Like most of us, Diane responds positively to interpersonal relationships. Like many family members who have a child or sibling with special needs, Nanette voices a common sentiment: "With SNR, I'm not her only social outlet. In fact, Diane is now living with a friend she met through the program."

When Diane joined SNR, Nanette says the change in her sister was nothing short of miraculous. "It was as if she came back to life," she explains. "She has friends. She looks forward to doing things. She's happy to live her life again."

For information about SNR, please call Angie Goucher at 755-6781.

Victoria Bruno is project coordinator for the city of Coeur d'Alene.

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