He was a fun-loving, adventurous man who thrived on being a part of the MV Advancements Community Inclusion program (CIS) based in Amity. Enjoying 25 hours a week with friends and staff was the norm. The CIS program offered him the opportunity to go bowling, enjoy fast food, take a walk in a park, or play games and do coloring with a strong network of friends. And of course, with his extreme love of music, he could always stump the staff with his music guess game.

There would be the occasional missed day for sickness and getting him to summer camp, which offered the chance to participate in activities like canoeing and horseback riding. Truly amazing for a man who needs assistance with most tasks of daily living including dressing, eating, and moving.

Jeremy, a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair, lives with a strong and involved family that kept him busy on the weekends, attending church, visiting the beach, and any other activities this go-getter could experience.

Jeremy’s life was happy and fulfilling. Enter the global pandemic of COVID-19, and in an instant, life changed.

CIS Program closed. Church closed. Restaurants closed.

Many of us experienced isolation from things that were normal and not understanding the why. Jeremy went into depression. With his stubborn personality, he even refused to eat or drink. His dad Jody remembers having to force-feed him for nutrition. Wendy Holbrook, CIS manager, recalls that first Zoom chat with him and reconnecting with his incredible smile.

According to Jody, Jeremy now asks every day, “What am I going to do tomorrow on the computer?” So five days a week, Jeremy sees friends and taps into activities online. If it is a craft, MV Advancements has supplies delivered to his door, and with his family support reaches success. Bingo Wednesday is his favorite, and when he wins, which is often, he selects Serendipity Ice Cream as the prize. Zumba Movement Day features, as Wendy puts it, “some of the best songs ever from Jeremy!”

In addition to online interactions, Jeremy receives 1:1 outing supports, which recently involved a night of Christmas light viewing and lunch out. Jeremy is now thriving in the new activities, but still asks when he will be able to go back to CIS. We hope that day is coming soon!

A huge thank you to all the staff, the families, and the partners who have stepped up, been innovative, and helped us reach the goal of not just surviving the pandemic, but thriving through it!