Two Sandwich based organizations are working together to provide opportunities for Cape residents at the beginning and toward the end of their lives. Decatur House, a Sandwich assisted living residence, provides internships for current students and recent graduates of Riverview School, which offers both a middle/high school program and a post high school GROW (Getting Ready for the Outside World) transitional program.
“The partnership provides Riverview students a chance to learn meaningful skills in landscaping, housekeeping, and kitchen duties, and provides a pathway to employment,” reports Sarah Tribuzio, Decatur House Vice president. “The interns bring life and youthful energy to our community, in addition to providing useful services.”
For more than 20 years, Decatur House Assisted Living Residence in Sandwich, MA has provided seniors quality, individualized personal care. Owners Linda and Steve Austin created Decatur House as a one-of-a-kind beautiful, home-like, safe and responsive living option for area seniors. Residents are encouraged to be themselves, to be as independent as they are able to be—to age comfortably, at their own pace. As they navigate their own aging process, residents receive the never-waving support of Decatur House’s trained and attentive staff. The Austins take pride in Decatur House’s reputation as being considered the last, best home for many of their residents.
Since 1957 Riverview School, also in Sandwich, has focused on providing a caring community for adolescents and young adults with complex language, learning and cognitive disabilities. Students come from all over the world (9 foreign countries) and 23 states to attend the specialized school. Like Decatur House, Riverview School is committed to being attentive and responsive to individual needs and fosters independence and personal growth. Both Decatur House and Riverview School aim to deliver support and personal attention required to obtain and maintain the highest quality of life possible for their respective community members.
Towards that goal, Riverview School’s post-high school GROW transitional program makes it possible for students to learn and practice skills needed to attain meaningful work and then helps them find jobs. Through internships students are matched with organizations and businesses that can provide the best training and setting to help them grow vocationally and socially. Partnering with local businesses to place students where they will have the most chance of being successful, is key to Riverview’s mission and essential to each student’s future independence.
When Sarah Tribuzio (Steve and Linda’s daughter) came on board to help with the family business, one of her first priorities was to identify local businesses with which Decatur House could build meaningful partnerships. With a background in non-profit marketing and fundraising, she understood the value in community partnerships; organizations benefiting from the sharing of ideas, missions, resources, and goals. Riverview’s mission to improve lives and its desire to introduce and integrate students into the greater community aligned with Sarah’s vision to build meaningful and productive community relationships for her family’s business. Alas, in the fall of 2018 Decatur House welcomed its first Riverview School cohort.
Under the supervision of Job Coach Patty MacDonald four GROW students spent 2 hours a day, two days a week at Decatur House learning about and assisting with kitchen and housekeeping duties. They brought with them a willingness to learn, kindness, and a positive energy that greatly benefited the Decatur House community. In exchange, Decatur House offered the students a welcoming community, mentorship and plenty of hands-on practical and social experiences they could immediately apply toward their employment goals.
The relationship with Decatur House checks an important box for Riverview School by providing their students the practical work and life experience needed to reach their employment goals. Riverview School work experience coordinator Kerry McCurdy says “The overall partnership and student internship program with Decatur House has proven to be very valuable. Not only do students get to practice work foundation skills such as; professional appearance, time management, accepting feedback, following routines and communication skills, students also have the opportunity to interact with the elderly community. Several students thrived in this environment and will be looking into assisted living facilities for future jobs. Riverview is very grateful to Decatur House for providing this unique opportunity to our students!”
For Decatur House, the partnership has been productive and inspiring. Vice President Sarah Tribuzio reports that “Having Riverview students in the House has been wonderful. Their skills, work ethic, and enthusiasm adds significant value to the lives of our residents and our staff and provides many helpful hands day to day. We look forward to continuing to welcome Riverview students to the House in the years to come.”
Riverview School Graduate Earns Regular Employment at Decatur House
Riverview graduate Ryan Alymer was never very interested in academics. They weren’t his thing. However, shortly after entering Riverview School in 2010, he started running. Managing the physical and mental rigor of the sport taught him a lot about hard work and goal-setting, as well as how to be aware and adaptive to his surroundings. As his strength and endurance increased, so did his confidence. Combined with the individualized mentoring and curriculum Ryan received at Riverview, the qualities instilled in him through running laid groundwork for Ryan’s future success in becoming a productive and reliable employee.
Participating in Riverview’s Project SEARCH internship program, Ryan worked at Cape Cod Hospital. While there he not only learned important practical skills in the healthcare field, but how to navigate socially and conversationally. After graduation from the program, Ryan applied to Decatur House. His newly learned and practiced occupational skills, notable work ethic, and kind and helpful personality so impressed Decatur House that Ryan was hired as a regular employee.
Ryan’s mentors are pleased about his new job and say healthcare and client services are a good match for Ryan because he is so compassionate, kind and polite. Job Coach, Rebecca Wilson, says “Decatur House has very high standards. It’s the cleanest place on the planet. And Ryan is up to the challenge. He always does his best and has a great work ethic that both his family and being in Project SEARCH helped to instill in him.”
Decatur House is excited to have Ryan on board. Facilities manager Jason Furman says “Ryan is a huge help around the House. He does his job well, enjoys learning new things, and is always willing to help out. He’s kind and respectful to everyone he encounters, including the residents. Ryan has become a part of the family.” Ryan’s grandfather, Paul Sullivan who lives at Decatur House, says it’s “amazing and so nice” to see Ryan working there. The two are often seen eating lunch together, or at the end of the day, sitting in the living room chatting, as they wait for Ryan’s bus to arrive to take him home.
Ryan was able to gain marketable and transferrable skills through the training and experience he received at Riverview School and as a result, Decatur House was able to offer him seamless, meaningful employment. He works 16 hours a week at Decatur House in the landscaping and housekeeping departments and is a key player in the team’s ability to keep the building spotless and the grounds maintained. In essence, Ryan has become a great employee!