by Owen Davison-Edwards
As you all know, we as a community are going to be celebrating National Disability Awareness Month throughout October and in light of this, I want to share with you a story about my dear friend Jon Leverentz. Jon is an outgoing and talented individual who lives at Cedarwood, the Hammer home where, for the past year or so, I have spent much of my time working as a DSP (Direct Support Professional). He is a thoughtful and stirring individual, both intellectually and emotionally. He is also a fantastic painter, an artist who simply isn’t willing to settle for less on the canvas but who probes far into his heart to search for, and then draw out, his inspirations.
Spending time with Jon has renewed in us both a childlike sense of wonder at the world around us, and the story I would like to share is in relation to this. It happened a few months back while we were reading through the last pages of the book “Where the Red Fern Grows,” a novel written by Wilson Rawls in 1961 about a boy who buys and trains two Redbone Coonhound hunting dogs. We had decided to read the book together in order to help wash away the dregs of winter and, quite naturally, both grew close to the characters involved as well as to the narrative of the plot. By the end of the book when the dogs passed away, we were both deeply moved. Out of all my experiences with Jon so far, this has been the most memorable. I will never forget it.
Today Jon continues to paint, enjoy time spent with his cat Maya, garden and get outdoors to go biking with staff assistance. From time to time, he also visits his friends at a nearby apartment program. Jon’s life is not easy, but he maintains a positive outlook and is a blessing to those around him. It is truly an honor and a joy of mine to have had the privilege of getting to know him on a personal level, and I look forward to many good times yet ahead!