This I Believe

Aimee - Western springs, Illinois
Entered on February 25, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Heart to Heart

Spring Break 2006 I spent just outside of Daytona, Florida in a small town called Deland. However, I was not spending my afternoons lying on the beach or swimming in the ocean. My youth group, Plymouth Fellowship, was on our annual spring break trip known as “Work Tour” and this year’s trip was to an institution called The Duvall Home. The Duvall Home is home to many physically and mentally challenged people, ranging in ages from 9 to 64. It wasn’t that the families of these people didn’t want to take care of them, but for some it was not easy to be able to give the time, attention, and unconditional love to them that was needed in order for them to be nurtured and grow as people.

My first day at the Duvall Home was an experience I will never forget. It was not easy to be thrown head-first into a brand new environment without instructions or any idea of what to expect. Today I happened to be going on a picnic at the Ravine with some of the people staying at the Duvall Home. When we got there I was paired up with a young woman by the name of Jennifer. She was 15 years old, the same age of me at the time, and just the sweetest girl. She was constrained to a wheelchair, due to physical disabilities, and also had severe mental disabilities. Regardless, Jennifer and I spent the afternoon walking along the shoreline, playing in the park, and talking about normal teenage girl things. After a few hours of spending time with her it was time for us to head back to the picnic to eat. In the middle of lunch I was asked to help out with something else, so Jennifer was paired up with a fellow peer. He took Jennifer out for a walk and about 3 minutes later came back completely exasperated and tense. He found me working with another woman and told me that Jennifer was throwing a fit and refused to cooperate with him and wouldn’t say anything except scream for me. Despite the fact that a close friend of mine was extremely shaken up by the experience he had just been put through, the smile that crept across my face was uncontrollable. This moment made my entire trip worthwhile for I had made a true human connection with another individual. Whether Jennifer remembers me or not is not the point of the matter. I believe that any true connection with another soul, no matter how significant, is one that will leave a lasting impression and forever shape the mannerisms of that individual. True connection is rare, but once found will never be able to be erased.