Oakwood is the name at a 'residential/teaching facility for adults with MR/DD' (mental retardation and developmental disabilities). I worked there for four years. So, it's not a tourist-y thing that you could see when you visit Kentucky. But there seem to be an incredible amount of services for people with, shall we say, intellectual differences, here in my state.
My job as a 'residential associate' was both the best and the worst job I've ever had. A residential associate assisted the residents (although the preferred term was 'client') with ADL's (activities of daily living) and the acquisition of new skills.
The first book idea I had in recent years involved going undercover as a resident at a facility such as Oakwood. But it would have to be carefully *ahem* worded.
The best thing about the place was working with the residents. I started out in a 'cottage' that had all high-functioning male clients. I went to the ER five times in the first six months of employment. Some years later I heard that the one man who had been the most difficult had gone to a group home with other high-functioning 'alpha' males and wound up getting beaten to death. He was a jerk, but he didn't deserve that.
After six months, I was transferred to a cottage that had men on one side and women on the other. I worked with the women and most of them were in wheelchairs at least for transport. Some of them I considered a second family. My second inter-house transfer came about 3 years later after a *ahem* rather vocal disagreement with one of the so-called 'professionals' concerning one of the clients. She attempted to have me 'taken off the floor', but that failed. So she reported the home manager for some imagined offense and that woman was transferred. What a joke.
Anyway, I got transferred with a client (over whom the aforementioned disagreement took place) to a home with higher-functioning females, where I was injured severely enough on two occasions to warrant more than a year of medical leave.
And I took up smoking less than a year after I started working there. It was either than or bang my head or my fist against a wall in frustration.
It wasn't all bad, though. I developed several close friendships that continue to this day. I would still step between one of my 'clients' and any danger. And I have a lot less hesitation when going into a potentially physically dangerous situation.
One day, before my husband and I got married, I was speaking on the phone with my future mother-in-law. She told me about DH's favorite candy in the world and said that he would love me forever if I made it for him. Wanting to encourage that, I took down the recipe she dictated over the phone:
-1/2 c. mashed potato
-1/2 c. butter
1. cream that all together, then add
2. in sufficient quantity to make the mixture workable without sticking to your hands.
So I did that.
DH was sitting in the living room at a computer. I walked out there with a bowl of the stuff and made him close his eyes. Then I spoon-fed him a little bit of this fondant and asked him what he thought of it. He said it tasted good, then asked what it was. I said, "Isn't this your favorite candy - potato candy? Your mom said it was your favorite!"
"What about the peanut butter," he asked. WHAT?!?!
She had forgotten to tell me that part, maybe thinking that I would have known it somehow. Anyway, the recipe should continue like this:
3. Roll out the mixture into a rectangular shape on a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Spread a thin-ish layer of peanut butter over the mixture. Then, roll it up like you would a cinnamon roll log. Cool for a while in the refrigerator for easier cutting. But if it's too cold it's more likely to crumble.
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