The Importance of Relationships and Community at Pleasant View, Inc.

January 20, 2021
by Pam Miller
Development Director for Pleasant View, Inc., Broadway, Va.

Social Workers Emily and Lindsey hand out treats to Melissa and Sarah at the “Trunk-or-Treat.” Photo courtesy of Pam Miller

During a pandemic, how do you safely celebrate fifty years of growing supports for individuals with disabilities from a six-person group home to the multifaceted supports we provide to over 160 individuals throughout Harrisonburg and Rockingham County? How do you come together as a community and foster the important relationships that helped Pleasant View become what we are today?

For starters, our Fiftieth Anniversary Committee started by holding a contest among our community of staff members and individuals we support to develop an anniversary theme. The chosen theme, submitted by Janine Kanagy, “Grateful for the Past, Celebrating the Present, and Anticipating the Future” will be used throughout the year as the foundation for all our celebrations.

When planning our Fall Banquet, we wanted to both continue the 26-year tradition and launch our 50th Anniversary celebrations by focusing on the first part of our theme: “Grateful for Our Past.” Despite our disappointment of not meeting in-person, we decided to have it virtually. As in years past, we wanted the banquet to include music, stories about Pleasant View services, and participation from the individuals we support.

The banquet was filmed on a cell phone. A microphone and amp were used to aid with sound. Each person we asked to help said, “Yes” with no hesitation. Each filming opportunity turned into a fun, rejuvenating, social distanced visit. Looking through boxes of photos brought back good memories of individuals, staff members, community and board members who may no longer be with us, but have made their mark on our agency.

To be completely honest, it was a little difficult to focus on a positive future when our present seems to be on pause. However, as Nancy Hopkins-Garriss ended her message, “With all the wonderful things we have done in the past, the best is yet to come.”

The “Challenges and Grace” article Dave Gullman wrote for the last Pathways special issue still rings true today. We continue to stay safer-at-home, keep connected with individuals in our Community Connections program through weekly Zoom calls, and stay spiritually connected twice a month with our Faith and Light community on Zoom. Pleasant View’s community-based day supports, except Supported Employment, remain suspended. We continue to enjoy day support activities within our Pleasant View residences.

With help from support professionals, individuals choose which activities they want to participate in and can mold the activities to their personal interests as well. It has been a joy to see each house work together on their day support projects and see the wide variety of results. With permission, we post pictures on Facebook to help keep connected with our community friends and family.

David and Linda Swartzendruber, Tom Eldridge, and Hannah, Dave, and Debbie Gullman sing “God Is So Good.” Courtesy of Pam Miller

Halloween is an important holiday at Pleasant View. Normally, there are community dances, parties, and ample opportunity to dress up and have fun.

This year, each house still decorated and held their own Halloween festivities. In lieu of a big party, day support coordinators and staff members organized a socially distanced, drive-thru “trunk-or-treat” event for the individuals we support in Pleasant View homes and in the community. They decorated 10 trunks in different themes and coordinated volunteers (including a class from JMU) for the 2.5-hour event. A steady flow of vehicles filled with happy people in costumes stopped at each trunk for a visit. It was a wonderful time for everyone to get out of the house and do something unusual.

We have been visiting over Zoom, through Faith and Light, and other virtual opportunities, but it was wonderful visiting face-to-face even if it was through masks. This event was such a success that more are planned in the future.

Dave Gullman was the catalyst for Pleasant View’s first All Saints Day Remembrance Service. He is attuned to the Pleasant View community and felt we all needed to honor the six individuals who died this year (one of COVID-19), and acknowledge the other types of losses we have all faced.

It was slow to get traction at first. Why should we focus more on our loss? As the service came together, support professionals and other friends of the deceased were filmed together sharing stories—once again briefly giving the deceased person life for that moment. Dave convinced us all to take time to pause our busy lives.

It has been a difficult year. We left the virtual service feeling the benefit of formally and together remembering all our friends. We were reminded that sharing the burden of loss with others can make it more bearable.

During this year, Pleasant View has experienced significant loss: individuals we support have died, support professionals have left for a variety of reasons including lack of childcare, we can no longer participate in community activities as we would like, and we continue to face significant program income and fundraising losses. Despite this loss, we continue to adapt to our new realities in ways that keep us connected with each other.

Besides providing needed financial support, you can help Pleasant View by keeping in touch with individuals and staff members you know in Pleasant View programs by phone or with cards, “adopting” a residential program to provide personalized craft and other activities, sending people you know who are interested in working with us to www.workatpv.com for an application or have them call 540-896-8255. We thank you for all your support through the years and look forward to what we can achieve together in the future.

*Pleasant View’s Virtual Banquet and All Saints Day Service can be found at www.tinyurl.com/pvivideos