One of My Girls: Rachel Nye’s Story as told by Hillcroft staff member Kim Johnson
Written by Chris Bavender
I’m the site manager for the house—three girls live there—including Rachel. I take care of the girls, grocery shop, do doctor’s appointments—stuff like that. I pretty much manage everything that goes on in the house.
I’ve been working with Rachel on and off for about seven years and started working with her full-time about three and a half years ago.
Rachel has mild retardation. I don’t like to say that word though—I call them handicapable because my girls are capable of doing whatever they want to do. She also has anxiety disorder and OCD. With the OCD she repeats herself a whole lot—like calling my name. She will call it at the beginning of a sentence and in the middle of a sentence and then about five times at the end of a sentence.
I take it in stride—I’ve been with her so long and been working with her so long it’s kind of normal to me. Sometimes when we are together and the OCD kicks in we have to stop and I tell her to take a deep breath and slow down. By me being with her so much I know when they are coming so that is when I will get in there and—if we are in fun situation—I will be goofy so we laugh and get her mind off it. Or, if I see she is agitated I pull her to the side and I talk her through it so she can calm down.
I know exactly when she is going to have one of her serious ones—she gives you that look of death. She looks out of the side of her eyes like, “I am going to get you,” so that is when we go to the side and have to talk about it.
A typical day with Rachel—besides her calling my name about 100 times—well, more like 150 times—is making sure her chores are done, and then basically asking her what she wants to do and whatever she want to do, we do it.
When I come in for the day Rachel is pretty much up already—she is our early bird—she gets up at 5 in the morning to get herself started. By the time I get there she has had breakfast and is getting dressed. When I walk in the door she is the first person I hear calling my name—two or three times. Then she has to tell me what is on her agenda every day and she will tell me that agenda about five times before we walk out the door!
Some of her favorite places to go are Hillcroft, Dollar Tree, McDonalds, Chase Bank – she loves Daniel who works at the Northwest Plaza branch—and the McGalliard library. At every place she knows everyone who works there and pretty much she walks in there and is like, “Hi guys!” And she hears, “Hi Rachel.”
Rachel has a brother who is with Hillcroft too and we meet up with him at least once a week. They get to see each other more but they do a one-on-one at least once a week. We meet up at different areas around Muncie or he will come over for lunch or she will go there. We try to keep her busy, to keep her out of the house, because once she gets in the house she has a routine. Once she is there she wants to take a shower and put on her pajamas and she is done for the day. If Rachel had her way she would be in bed by 6 after dinner—so we try to keep her out as much as possible.
Rachel LOVES the color purple! Actually if you tell her two things: that you have cats—she is the ultimate cat woman—and that you love the color purple—you will be her all-time best friend. She wears purple almost every day—at least five out of seven days she will have on purple—a purple shirt, purple scarf, purple pants—purple everything!
I think Rachel gets a lot out of our relationship. She has more patience and is learning a lot of different things. We cook, we go places, we do things—she learns so much that at times she can tell me the rules before I can tell her the rules. An example would be that before we go into a store the rule is that if the employees are busy we aren’t going to bother them—she can talk to them when she is in line. She’ll say, “Kim, I will not talk to her if she is busy—I will wait until I am line.”
One time we had an agreement that we were going to switch roles and I would walk into the bank and yell hello to everyone in the bank. Well, when the time came and we got to the bank she looks at me and goes, “Now Kim, you aren’t going to go in there and yell are you?” I said, “Am I supposed to?” She said, “No, you will embarrass me if you do.” And we walked in and she was smooth and didn’t yell.
She knows the rules but sometimes decides she doesn’t want to follow them!
I do have to take a time out now and then. It will get really frustrating and I will tell Rachel and the other girls I have to go to the bathroom and I just go in there and take a deep breath. It’s very rare because a lot of the times we are just goofy—we turn on the music and we are just dancing and singing and laughing and stuff like that. Sometimes I forget she is a client and we just do our thing. I love knowing I am helping her.
People ask me how long I will do this and I tell them I’m not going anywhere. If they put me out they better lock all the doors and windows because if they put me out the front door I am running to the back door. This is just something I like to do. I like to take care of people and help them.
Chris Bavender is a Muncie native and Ball State University alumna. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a print and broadcast journalist, and is a freelance writer for several regional publications. She currently lives in Indianapolis where she is the marketing director for a law firm.