Each week Dan Benavidez and Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler invite a guest to join them on their Belonging Revolution Walk. This week the duo were joined by Colorado State University Professor Carol Engel-Enright.
The Belonging Revolution is a program that began about 4 years ago when Butler and Benavidez decided they wanted to connect with the community. Since then, the two have walked in neighborhoods across Longmont letting people know that they belong, no matter who they are, where they are from or where they live. Since neither Butler nor Benavidez knock on doors, the cooler weather forces them to be fair-weather walkers. However, as the weather has turned cold, Butler and Benavidez have begun visiting retirement homes.
The following are the accounts of Benavidez, Butler and Johnson, expressing their thoughts and opinions on their recent Belonging Revolution walk.
The Peaks Care Center 12-1-2018
Because of the weather for over a month we have not been able to do our neighborhood walks however Colorado State University Professor Carol Engel-Enright arranged for us to once again visit the Peaks care center where Chief Butler and I had visited a year or so ago. Oh My! Oh My! How great a visit this was! I could feel deeply the good vibes coming back from the retired and those in need of deep care that we met at the Care Center when they were greeted by Mike and Professor Carol Engel-Enright! And how absolutely, virtuous thing it was when Chief Mike Butler and Professor Carol Engel-Enright met and wished a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all those we met the majority in their wheel chairs and in their beds not able to care for themselves. And what a great feeling it must have been for them as I could sense it and see their strained because of their physical condition smiles to meet with Mike and Professor Carol Engel-Enright who really, really cared for them for them! And it showed in their smiles!
And not only did those at the care center beam with happiness at Chief Butler and Professor Carol Engel-Enright being there with them, I also after beamed with happiness in the parking lot after this great, yes great, caring meeting and wishing the retired and in need of care people a great holiday period and seeing their smiles that too beamed with happiness. And again, afterwards in the parking lot I just knew that all was good! Yes, all going to be okay! Thank you, Chief Butler, and thank you Colorado State University Professor Carol Engel-Enright for arranging for our visit to the Peaks Care Center and being there with us.
It’s cold outside!! So, as in years past during the winter months, we walked one of our local nursing homes, The Peaks. Carol Engel-Enright not only suggested this idea to spread the cheer of the season at a local nursing home, she went along with us and connected warmly with those we met. Thank you for your compassion, Carol!
During our walks through Longmont neighborhoods, Dan and I see the treasures of each place – each neighborhood could very well be a treasure chest. By opening the chest and by putting the gifts together in many different ways, we multiply the power of its riches. Neighborhoods are much richer when we build on the gifts of its people. It knows that a gift is not a gift until it is given.
And so it is with our nursing homes. The treasures and gifts of the smiles, wisdom, experience and love of the people who reside in our nursing homes is abundant! Dan, Carol and I were truly enriched by those who shared their life stories about their families, their careers, their service to others, their smiles and by their warm affection.
See the photographs of all of us. Tealy, Augusta, Wade, Clarence, Jen, Armando, Virginia, Jim, Marsha, Gladys and a few others. And while it was cold outside, it was very warm inside. Some were a little disoriented when we first approached them but quickly you could see their eyes light up, their smiles return and their body language become more expressive when we engaged. If anyone wants to feel loved, go to your nearest senior living facility with only an agenda of wanting to love and be loved.
Unfortunately, most if not all communities do not benefit from the gifts and love of those who reside in our nursing homes. It is a valuable part of the human and perhaps spiritual capital that is lost to all of us.
Oh, our nursing homes. We pay for care – professional care for many of our elders.
Are nursing homes another sign of the commodification of the human condition? Commodification is the process of taking a human condition, describing it as a problem, and then selling a purported solution.
Once a “solution” to human problems is bought and sold on the market, universities begin to teach it, certify it, and behave much like a modern-day “guild” that limits the pool of who can offer the “solution.” They elementalize it and order it. The process gets curricularized. And institutions become dependent on the needs of others.
As a result, we often end up institutionalizing marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. And our nursing homes become another professional solution to a human condition. You can move from independent living to assisted living to nursing home to hospice without ever having to leave the property. Does life get any more efficient than that?
Community is about accepting everyone. Abundance in communities embraces everybody’s desire to belong and to have their gifts acknowledged. So, what does community abundance in action look like. We believe it means that everyone is valued and everyone deserves to be part of the whole – even those who remain invisible in our nursing homes.
I left The Peaks feeling great gratitude for those who gifted me with their treasures!
Colorado State University Professor Carol Engel-Enright
Peaks Nursing Home
This time of year brings up memories of loved ones who have passed and are not part of the holiday spirit. As I remembered my beautiful mother this week, I realized I could probably find some new friends who would remind me of her at the nursing home and they might like some company and good cheer. I had heard about the Belonging Revolution with Mike Butler and Dan Benavidez and read about some of their neighborhood walks. Walking into The Peaks Care Center on Main Street, I did not know what to expect so I observed as Mike and Dan greeted some of the residents in the lobby. I watched as they connected with each resident, asking questions about where they had come from and some of the favorite things they did in their lives. Each conversation was special, and each resident had a different story. Observing how they connected in conversation, I started to talk and ask questions of some of the residents myself. It was fun and engaging. All of the residents were impressed that the Police Chief was taking time to speak with them and Dan was able to communicate with those who were bilingual in English and Spanish. I related most with the women. Augusta had funny stories and she was so excited to meet Chief Butler. Virginia was from Kansas City. Chief Butler told her she must have had a life where she could be elegant and her beautiful silver blue eyes lit up. I received the cheerful experience I had hoped to give the residents. We exchanged our humanity with each other and were grateful to have a community that cares. I found new friends and hope to return to visit them again soon. Most of all, I have such a new found respect for our community of Longmont and Mike and Dan who for five years have walked the neighborhoods to meet, greet, and engage people with this wonderful community. Thank you for a beautiful and cheerful holiday experience.
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