There’s no more serene place in the entire SKILLS universe than Sand Road Waiver Home in Newport. The facility is home to two men: Errol (66) and Karl (63).
Most week days, Karl participates in a day program, but Errol prefers to stay at home enjoying his retirement. Before he retired he used to shovel snow and split wood. Now he spends a good deal of his time feeding the birds, keeping the bird feeders on the patio stocked year round, and painting puffy paint designs on the bottom of his socks.
He and Karl go to the bowling alley for dinner every Friday. There they eat hot wings (Errol’s favorite) and catch up with people from other programs, including staff members who have moved out of Sand Road and into other facilities.
Errol is a fixture in the Sand Road Waiver home. He’s been here longer than his roommate and most staff.
The five staff members: Rick, Chris, Crystal, Pat and their newest edition, Mark, support Errol and Karl with the help of their team leader. They’re a diverse bunch. Chris is studying to be a minister. Pat is a former commercial fisherman. Mark was a radio host in Virginia.
What they have in common is a team mentality.
“Everybody is willing to help each other out,” says Tammy Waltman, former team leader. “There’s a lot of consistency.”
Making that happen takes flexibility, a willingness to learn, and dedication. During the big February snow storm staff had no problem keeping the steps shoveled off and the exits clear, but white-out conditions made shift changes a challenge.
Crystal pulled a double shift, staying with Errol and Karl from 7 in the morning until 9 at night.
Staff outside the team offered to help as well. Diana took the overnight shift so Crystal could go home and get some sleep.
“I think the staff is really dedicated,” Tammy says. “Anybody that’s dedicated loves their job.”
It’s hard not to love Sand Road Waiver. The team and the residents are clearly comfortable in the home and with each other.