Cindy and Vic’s R & R, Inc., provides person-directed services for adults with developmental disabilities. Maximizing personal potential, supporting active citizenship and building friendships for life!

A blog by Cindy Hensley, CEO of Cindy and Vic’s R&R, Inc.

March 13th, 2020…a year ago today. It was Friday the 13th and we knew something was coming. We’d heard the messaging from across the Globe and knew COVID – 19 had made its way not only into the United States but into our State, Alaska. That afternoon at the Center, we hung signs around the building about handwashing and covering sneezes, we were ready to have air high-fives and virtual hugs beginning Monday. We made sign-in sheets and bought a thermometer. We spaced out the tables where people usually cozied up around and we sent a note to families about keeping folks home if they were feeling sick whatsoever. We were prepared, or so we thought.

That night I got home from a long day at work, ready for a relaxing weekend before what was sure to be a very different week beginning Monday. I turned on the news and saw that the President had declared COVID -19 a National Emergency. Thoughts of a 28 people gathering in our relatively small building on Monday morning was suddenly making my stomach turn somersaults. Later that night the Governor of Alaska ordered public schools to close from March 16th-30.

Saturday morning, I watched the news as they showed Italy in pictures, locked down - the worst hit nation outside of China with over 12,000 cases and over 800 deaths. My somersaults began to do cartwheels as more and more news throughout the day spoke of the inevitability of a major shut down if there was any chance of slowing the spread of this thing called COVID-19.

Schools were closing later in the week and the thoughts about waiting to close until then seemed moot. I called an emergency meeting with my business partner Vicki, our Agency Supervising Manager Tonya, and Renee our Community Living Supervisor. We were in agreement “we would NOT be opening up our Center on Monday as planned”.

We split the list of the 65 individuals we serve and began calling families as well as staff. What followed in the weeks (which turned into months, and has now been a year) often seems like a never ending roller coaster ride that keeps making unexpected twists and turns, and just when you think the ride will finally end, it starts up again. People have likened the days of the Pandemic to the Movie “Groundhog Day” where the lead wakes up and is living the same day, over and over and over. I felt like that often myself. Stories generated daily about people working from home, learning to bake bread, virtually traveling the world, getting groceries delivered, and for some unknown reason stocking up on toilet paper!! In the midst of all this I found myself working more hours a day than ever, learning about the Science behind this thing called COVID-19 and writing more Policies ABOUT COVID 19 than I’d written since the beginning of our business 21 years earlier. And…then there was ZOOM. A program once used for occasional teleconferencing became a daily tool for connecting with colleagues, friends, and loved ones soon transitioned to the virtual platform on which we were able to continue providing services for our community.

As I think back about the beginning of all this, I’m truly brought to tears remembering how EVERYONE rallied together to make sure the individuals we served continued to be supported. Virtual Sign Language was started with Natalie, Allison did creative expression, yoga was available for those who wanted to “stretch” their skills. In the beginning we had just a few classes, until one day someone said, why can’t we just do “group day hab” like we did in the community, but now we’ll do it on zoom. And the next thing I knew we were serving the majority of our people 5 days a week! Additionally, our Group Homes were fast and furiously finding alternate ways to have fun. From joining the social media group “A world of Hearts” and decorating the windows of their homes with hearts, to making masks, painting and hiding rocks around anchorage, and learning EVERYTHING about FREE virtual fun activities.

I could most likely write a novel about this past year, as I’m sure so many of us could. I’m telling this story today not as a way to bring attention to myself or even our agency, but as a way to remember. To remember how the families of our service recipients called and asked if we needed any help delivering art supplies to individuals’ homes so they could participate in the week’s art lesson. To remember how our DSPs made signs and did drive-by birthday parties for the people we serve, delivered Easter baskets, art supplies, sang Christmas carols outside of homes, and managed to make the KTUU news! OUR DSP’s ROCK!! To remember how the admin team worked…and worked…and then worked some more figuring out App K’s, PPE, PPP, ECHO’S, and everything COVID Related. To remember how when friends gathered (as they continue to gather now) in the Zoom room, that smiles are alive, fun is still had, and spirits are STILL lifted, even after a year. To remember, that beyond workers who collaborate in an Agency, beyond the individual people we provide services to, beyond all the external titles we have, this year has given us MORE than we could have ever hoped for. It has given us each other. Truly connected, truly working in ONE accord, truly loving and being there for each other as Family.

We’ve always said when new people arrive to our Agency, “welcome to the C&V family”. This year has taken that phrase and has forever embedded it in the hearts of each of us. We are One Family, One Humanity, One World and I know for myself, my heart will never be the same again in the realization of this connectedness.

I will simply close this blog by mentioning each of our staff by name and saying that I can NOT ever begin to thank EACH of you enough for your dedication, your creativity, your resilience, your patience, your courage, your cooperation, your teamwork, your love and your TECH SKILLS!! Thank you, Luis Agosto, Jennifer Alexander, Renee Alford, Jimmie Bell, Sue Carlson, Jordyn Cleveland, Lanie Crittenden, Teri Cunningham, Kelly Day-Lewis, Jennie Denis, Tonya Dipo, Jose Gac, Ana Gerber-Cavalier, Susie, Hartvigson, Lindsey Honemann, Ana Jager, Ashlyn Johnson, Katey Johnson, Wendy Leseman, Audra Lovejoy, Nicole McFarlen, Wendy Michal, Jerry Moore, Miles Morgan, Annette Nelson, Carly Neumuth, Meg Parsons, Anna Pieper, Cindy Powell, Karen Wegrzyn, Allison Wilson, Natalie Wilson, Gus Wimberger, Linda Marie Wymbs and my BFF and Business Partner, Vicki Cellers.

Peace and Love Family,


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