A Fierce Kind of Love, a project of Visionary Voices
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
 

Here.
Stories from
Selinsgrove Center and KenCrest Services

Helen

recorded at KenCrest Services April 2015
PHOTO of Helen
photo by JJ Tiziou


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LIVES LIVED APART interview with Helen recorded April 22, 2015


Helen with her interviewer Evie
PICTURED: Helen's interviewer, Evie

Evie: And then I press record but you don't have to think about that much.

Helen: OK.

Evie: So my name is Evie and I'm interviewing Helen. We're at KenCrest and Marjorie is in the room with us and today is April 22nd, 2015. So if you want to start I can either tell you about my memento or...

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: You want to know a little bit about me? So I'm a graduate student at Swarthmore College and I'm getting my Masters in social work and I brought with me today a ticket from a Phillies game. It was from one of the playoff games and me and my family like to go to the Phillies games a lot. I've grown up my whole life in Philadelphia and so we're big sports fan and the Phillies is one of our favorite teams so it was a very exciting game and we were all there together. It was me, my mom, my dad, and my sister so it was a very special memory so I saved the ticket and I thought I would share it with you today. So... have you ever been... are you a big sports fan as well?

Helen: Me? No.

Evie: OK. What are some of the things you like?

Helen: Walking dogs and going horseback riding and stuff.

Evie: Great so you're an... excuse me, animal lover?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Great.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Do you have any pets now?

Helen: Yes.

Evie: What do you have?

Helen: Three dogs now.

Evie: Wow.

Helen: And a new puppy now and the two: Brea and Kiki and the new puppies name is Cindy.

Evie: Oh cute. What kind of dogs are they?

Helen: I don't know.

Evie: That's OK. Are they big dogs or little dogs?

Helen: Big ones.

Evie: Oh wow. So do you like walking the dogs?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Great and is it just you taking care of them? Does anyone help you?

Helen: No, me do it.

Evie: Wow. Great. So they must keep you pretty busy.

Helen: Yeah, yeah.

Evie: Great and I know you're part of the program here today because you work here?

Helen: We need to lock it have people not come walk in here during.

Evie: You'd rather be here on your own and be able to tell your story?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Great. So as part of your... you work in the program here at KenCrest.

Helen: Mm-hm.

Evie: Great, what types of things do you do?

Helen: Do housekeeping stuff like clean stuff and stuff, yeah.

Evie: OK and do you work here or do you go out into the community as well?

Helen: They stay here. They do boxes, yeah.

Evie: OK great and do you like that work?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: What's sort of been your experience here at KenCrest?

Helen: They allow work group too, yeah.

Evie: OK. And has it been a positive experience for you?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK great and are you from this area? Did you grow up here?

Helen: I don't know.

Evie: OK. Where are you from?

Helen: My mom... my two moms. One mom passed away and I have one mom now.

MORE/LESS OF HELEN'S INTERVIEW

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yeah. My mom live in Philly now. Yeah.

Evie: Very nice. Do you see her often?

Helen: Yeah. Yep. I talk to my mom on the phone and stuff.

Evie: Do you like to see your mom and do anything with her?

Helen: Yes we go shopping and I stay over on weekends and stuff.

Evie: Great.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: So you guys like to go shopping together?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: You sound like you're very close with your mom.

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like to grow up with your mom?

Helen: They moved out of my mom's old place on 23. They moved in a new family now. There's a new family now. Dina, myself, and myself come pick me up after work and yeah. A lot of kids home and a lot of dogs home.

Evie: OK so a lot of kids and a lot of dogs?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Great.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: And do you have other siblings?

Helen: No.

Evie: So you're an only child?

Helen: Mm-hm. Yep.

Evie: And what would be a kind of typical day for you?

Helen: It's a little bit hard. I miss my mom a lot now. My mom lives in Philly and I live up here now and makes my mom not see me a lot.

Evie: So that's hard for her?

Helen: Yeah and me too. Yeah. Yep.

Evie: And can you tell me a little bit more about why that's hard for you?

Helen: I miss my mom a lot and me talking on my phone at nighttime. Yeah.

Evie: At nighttime?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK so what kinds of things do you tell her about?

Helen: I tell my mom my good day work, good day at home and stuff. Yeah.

Evie: And do you... who would you say is another important person in your life besides your mom?

Helen: Dina.

Evie: OK and can you tell me a little bit more about him?

Helen: No, Dina, my staff. Yep.

Evie: And what kind of relationship do you have?

Helen: I have a boyfriend here now, yep.

Evie: Wow, that's exciting.

Helen: Yeah, it's Ralph. My boyfriend, yeah.

Evie: How long have you guys been together?

Helen: He came in here working. My first day come in here to meet Ralph one day.

Evie: Wow.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: Great. Is there any particular activities or things you guys like to do together?

Helen: They try to add more like movies and stuff.

Evie: Great.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: Can you tell me a little bit more about him as a person. What's he like?

Helen: When I'm having a bad day at work, Ralph helps me and cool me down.

Evie: Wow.

Helen: He'll talk to me on my cell phone too. I have my cell phone number on Ralph's phone. He'll call me at nighttime and help me cool down at nighttime. Yeah.

Evie: That sounds really nice.

Helen: Yeah, yep.

Evie: Is there anything you feel like you help him with?

Helen: I help Ralph cool down too, yeah.

Evie: Great.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: And can you tell me a little bit more about you as a person? What you like? What you don't like?

Helen: I like horseback riding.

Evie: OK. How long have you been doing that?

Helen: Like last year they had weights on me last year. Now lose a lot of weight now they get back on the horse again.

Evie: OK. So have you been riding since you were younger or is a new hobby?

Helen: New hobby, yeah.

Evie: OK and how did you start horseback riding?

Helen: My mom signed the paperwork and all my paperwork in. The other people set up a time for me to come in do a PTU and (inaudible) Yep.

Evie: Great. So you really like horseback riding?

Helen: Mm-hm.

Evie: How often do you horseback ride?

Helen: Thursday... they come in tomorrow. Yep. Last year they did Friday night. They changed it now. They do Thursday now. Yeah. Yep. Yep.

Evie: So horseback riding and what is it you like about horseback riding?

Helen: The horses, they like me now.

Evie: Oh good.

Helen: Yeah my horses kissed me one day. Yes. Yeah.

Evie: So now you feel like they like you and they've warmed up to you?

Helen: Yeah, yeah. Yep.

Evie: And do you go to a barn?

Helen: Yep. Uh-huh. Yeah. Go to a barn, yeah.

Evie: Do you ride in a ring or do you go on trails?

Helen: They inside for us, warm up for us and they ride inside. Then time for outside a little bit.

Evie: Oh great.

Helen: They done ride, they done at seven. Jamie drop me back home. Yeah, yeah. Yep.

Evie: That sounds really fun.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: And do you have any... so you do the horseback riding and then you take care of your dogs?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Any other sort of things I should know about you?

Helen: I clean my room a lot now.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yeah. I do my own laundry now and stuff.

Evie: Very nice.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: And that's something you like to do?

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: Why do you like to do those things?

Helen: Laundry and my dirty... I wear all day and they need to wash all my clothes. Yeah.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: So that's important to you, keep your room clean and your clothes clean.

Helen: Yeah. I need clean clothes to wear.

Evie: I like your dress a lot.

Helen: Thank you.

Evie: Is fashion something you're interested in?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: You mentioned you like to go shopping.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: And I know you said you go shopping with your mom. Does she take you to other places? Like other special things you do together?

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: What are some the other things?

Helen: Go have lunch, go to movies and do stuff. Yeah.

Evie: And what kind of movies do you like to go to?

Helen: I don't know. Funny movies and... Yeah.

Evie: You like to laugh?

Helen: Yeah, yeah. Yep.

Evie: Would you say your boyfriend or your mom, they're funny? They have a good sense of humor?

Helen: Yep.

Evie: Who would you say is someone in your life you feel like is very funny?

Helen: My mom.

Evie: Your mom?

Helen: Yeah, yeah. You're funny too.

Evie: I'm funny too?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Why thank you.

Helen: Mm-hm.

Evie: I like comedy movies as well.

Helen: Good.

Evie: Yeah. What was one of the more recent movies you went to?

Helen: I don't know.

Evie: That's OK. Are you excited for the warmer weather?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Do you have any plans for the summertime?

Helen: We do the pool a lot.

Evie: OK. Do they have a pool around here?

Helen: (Inaudible) has two pools. Yeah.

Evie: Do you go with other people from KenCrest?

Helen: No.

Evie: You go with your family?

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: Sounds like you spend a lot of time with your family.

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: So can you tell em a little bit about why you were excited to participate today?

Helen: I like to try new things and I'm excited to do it today here, today. Yeah.

Evie: Great, so you like trying new things?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Great and do you feel like... would you say when you try new things that it feels challenging?

Helen: Easy.

Evie: Do you ever get nervous?

Helen: A little bit.

Evie: Yeah? You seem pretty comfortable.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yeah. It's quiet here now.

Evie: Yep. And I know you said you have a special relationship with your staff member here.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Can you tell me about your staff member?

Helen: She's my good friend around here and my friend helps me a little bit and stuff.

Evie: So she's your good friend?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Great and what kinds of things does she help you with?

Helen: She helps me clean the lunch room table and stuff.

Evie: So do you spend most of the day with her?

Helen: No, we do my housekeeping stuff at one o'clock and stuff. Yeah.

Evie: OK. And do you want to talk about your other mom or does that feel too hard to talk about?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK. Great. I'm glad you could let me know if that's too sensitive.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK.

Helen: (inaudible).

Evie: Yeah.

Helen: You have a good day?

Evie: Yeah, I'm having a really good day. I'm really excited to be participating in this project too. It's really nice to meet you.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: Do you have sort of like a favorite memory of either growing up or here that you feel really when you think about it you feel happy?

Helen: They have a new place work here in here place. That's why I'm happy here.

Evie: OK, great.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: And just like when I shared my memory of the Phillies is there a day you can remember feeling really happy and like it was the perfect day?

Helen: I'm happy to see my mom last weekend and yeah...

Evie: Good. Did you guys do anything special?

Helen: We saw people dancing in a play.

Evie: Oh, you went to a play?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Very nice. Was it a good play?

Helen: Uh-huh.

Evie: Do you remember which play it was?

Helen: No.

Evie: OK but you liked that they were dancing.

Helen: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Evie: Is dancing something you like to do too?

Helen: A little bit, not a lot.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: You'd rather watch the dancers on stage?

Helen: Yeah, yep.

Evie: So it sounds like you get to do a lot of fun things in the city with your mom.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: A lot of good memories?

Helen: Yep.

Evie: And hopefully now that its warmer you'll get to do a lot of horseback riding.

Helen: Yeah. Yep. Thank you. I'm happy now.

Evie: You're happy now?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Why do you feel happy now?

Helen: Meeting new people around here and stuff. Meeting you and stuff. Yep.

Evie: So meeting new people makes you really happy?

Helen: Yeah, yep. You have more people to interview?

Evie: Are more people being interviewed? Mm-hm. I'm only interviewing you today but other people are participating in the program.

Helen: OK.

Evie: What is about meeting new people that's exciting or happy for you?

Helen: The new people; happy and me. And new (inaudible) make me happy today.

Evie: OK great. Something exciting going on?

Helen: Yeah. It's quiet up here now.

Evie: Mm-hm.

Marjorie: Except for the mushing noises.

Evie: Yeah, the buzzing. So is there anything that you'd like... if you, when you meet new people is there anything that you feel like you want them to know about you?

Helen: A little bit.

Evie: OK. What kinds of things would you like people to know about you?

Helen: I'm a woman now and I'm 24 now and I'm a woman now. Yeah.

Evie: OK, you're a woman now.

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: And you want people to know that about you.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Do you feel like people don't always treat you like a woman?

Helen: A little bit, yeah.  A little bit, yeah. Yep.

Evie: How do they treat you?

Helen: They attitude with me and (inaudible) let me try and walk away. People are (inaudible) and it hurts me. I don't like it and I work outside a little bit and cool off a little bit and go back in and stuff.

Evie: OK so it upsets you?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: So you go outside and cool off a little bit.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Then you come in.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: What do they do that upsets you?

Helen: They have attitude on me.

Evie: Oh they have attitude towards you?

Helen: Yeah and I don't like it.

Evie: OK and what kind of attitude?

Helen: Like attitude like mean look on me and stuff. Yeah.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: Where do you feel like that happens?

Helen: Like downstairs. Yeah.

Evie: So they give you mean looks?

Helen: Yeah. Not like it.

Evie: You don't like that?

Helen: No. I'm having a good day and they have attitude with me. Yep. Sorry my ankle crack.

Evie: And why do you feel like they're giving mean looks?

Helen: They (inaudible) and they helping (inaudible) people and throw attitude on me. I don't like it.

Evie: OK so it doesn't make you feel like they're treating you like a woman?

Helen: No.

Evie: How would you like them to treat you?

Helen: Like good attitude. They smile in peoples face and I'm 24 now, a woman now. People stop their attitude with me. Nothing to do with you. Stop your attitude with me. Please don't do it. I walk away. Yeah. Yep.

Evie: So you learn to walk away in those situations?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Where did you learn to do that? Because that can be hard sometimes.

Helen: My mom Elise. Yeah.

Evie: So she taught you about how to reflect and act?

Helen: Yep. Yep.

Evie: Sounds like you learned a lot from her.

Helen: Yep. Yep. Thank you. It's warm in here today.

Evie: Mm-hm. Can you remember anything else that she taught you that you feel like you use a lot or has really helped you?

Helen: My mom (inaudible) and he helping me. Yeah.

Evie: And are there other sorts of life lessons that they've taught you?

Helen: They try to go in my room alone and read a book and calm down a little bit. Yeah.

Evie: So you go in your room and read books and calm down?

Helen: Yeah to (inaudible) more people. Thank you.

Evie: You're welcome. Thank you. And so I know we talked about you'd like people to know you're a woman and you're 24 now. Are there other things you'd like people to know about you?

Helen: No. It's good now.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: If you were meeting someone for the first time how would you kind of describe yourself?

Helen: My name is Helen and people ask and my name is Helen.

Evie: OK and what kind of person, what kind of characteristics?

Helen: And you?

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: And do you feel like you have... what would you say is a strength of yours? What are you really good at?

Helen: Horseback riding. Yeah.

Evie: OK. Great. You've gotten really good at that.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK. Great. That's exciting.

Helen: Yeah. Thank you.

Evie: Sure. Do you have any dreams for the future? What would you think about for your future? What would you like to happen?

Helen: Get a good job helping kids out and stuff.

Evie: OK so you want to help kids?

Helen: Mm-hm.

Evie: Wow that's great.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: What kinds of things would you like to do with kids?

Helen: Go to people house and babysit kids. Mom and dad at work all day and I can do that.

Evie: So that's something you'd like to do in the future?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: It's a goal for you?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Awesome.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: You like playing with kids?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Is that something you get to do pretty frequently?

Helen: One weekend I did.

Evie: OK. Do you have any other goals or dreams?

Helen: No.

Evie: OK, that's great though that you know you want to work with kids.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Mm-hm and why do you want to be a babysitter or work with kids?

Helen: In case like his mom call me to come over and stay to helping kids at nighttime. Mom and dad are out. They're OK to go over to their house until mom and dad come back home.

Evie: So the kids will feel OK because you're there?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Great. So it's important for you to help other people?

Helen: Yes. I'm tired today.

Evie: You're tired?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Is there anything else you'd like for us to talk about?

Helen: No.

Evie: For us to get to know you or know about your experiences?

Helen: No. We're OK. We're OK now. Yeah.

Marjorie: Could I ask one question?

Helen: Yeah.

Marjorie: Since I work in a library I wonder what kind of books you like to read?

Helen: I don't know. A lot of books I read now.

Marjorie: So you have books in your room when you go home and you can.

Helen: Yeah.

Marjorie: That's nice.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: And I know you said sometimes you'll go in your room to help cool down or... what other kinds of things do you do?

Helen: My room door close. I lie down in my bed and try to take a little nap to help me.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yeah, a little nap helps me.

Evie: OK. Do you ever listen to music?

Helen: Yeah, in my room. Yeah.

Evie: What kind of music do you like?

Helen: Christmas.

Evie: You like Christmas music?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Is Christmas a happy time of year for you?

Helen: Yeah and Hanukah too.

Evie: And Hanukah too?

Helen: My mom friend does Christmas. Hanukah at Mary's.

Evie: Great.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Sounds very special. Do you have any good memories from celebrating the holidays?

Helen: No.

Evie: Did you get any gifts or anything that you really like?

Helen: One gift for Hanukah, the second the night a second one. The third night a third one. The last night of Hanukah one more. Yep.

Evie: And when you celebrate the holidays does your whole family gather together or is it...

Helen: My family does Christmas and Mary's does Hanukah with my mom. Yep.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: So it sounds like the holidays are pretty important to your family.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Is that something you think you'll continue on?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK and are you a spiritual or religious person?

Helen: I'm Jewish now.

Evie: Do you attend synagogue or anything like that?

Helen: Yeah, my mom is. Yep.

Evie: So are there other sort of holidays or rituals you participate in besides Hanukah.

Helen: My mom does Christmas at Laura's house.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: But you would consider yourself Jewish?

Helen: Uh-huh. Yeah. My mom is Jewish too.

Evie: Uh-huh.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: would you consider yourself Christian? Like both or just Jewish?

Helen: One; Jewish.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yep. Yep.

Evie: And what does it mean for you to be Jewish.

Helen: I eat a lot of Jewish food. Yeah.

Evie: Is it kosher food or?

Helen: Yeah. Different foods eat, yeah.

Evie: What are some of the foods that you eat?

Helen: Like chicken and stuff.

Evie: Any other Jewish foods?

Helen: No.

Evie: OK. So you eat the right food for..

Helen: Mm-hm.

Evie: Any other part of it that's important to you?

Helen: Getting close to my mom.

Evie: It helps you be close to your mom?

Helen: Yeah. Thank you.

Evie: Does it help you sort of remember your mom or feel closer?

Helen: Yeah my mom is like (inaudible).

Evie: Great.

Helen: Yeah. Yep. Yeah. Thank you.

Evie: Does it feel hard to talk about that now?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: It does?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Does it feel nice to be able to talk about the important memories you had together?

Helen: Yeah, a little bit hard too. A little bit hard too, yeah. Thank you.

Evie: Sure.

Helen: It's quiet now.

Evie: So I know we talked about this a little bit already but when you were mentioning like you feel like you're 24 now and you're a woman, what do you feel like... how is that different from when you were a teenager or a little girl?

Helen: It feels weird on me. I'm a woman now and not be a little girl no more and stuff.

Evie: OK. Why does that feel weird for you?

Helen: Makes me weird, I was small... yeah.

Evie: So you miss being small?

Helen: Mm-hm.

Evie: Why is that?

Helen: When I was a small little girl a lot of people helped me do stuff. Yeah.

Evie: And now it feels different?

Helen: Mm-hm.

Evie: What does it feel like now?

Helen: Like a woman now. Like good inside of me now.

Evie: It feels good inside you?

Helen: Yeah, yep.

Evie: Do you feel like you don't get as much help for things or?

Helen: I try to do myself first. If I can't do one thing I ask staff to help me. Yeah.

Evie: But it's important for you to do things on your own?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: So it feels good inside you but you still miss being a little girl?

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: Is there anyone you feel like sees you for the woman you've become?

Helen: Seeing my mom a lot now.

Evie: She treats you like a woman?

Helen: Mm-hm, yeah. Yep.

Evie: OK. How do you feel like she treats you like a woman? Like what's different about your relationship with her?

Helen: Hold the door open for my mom and stuff. Yeah. Help my mom do the food shopping and stuff, yeah.

Evie: So it sounds like you help your mom now a little bit.

Helen: Yeah. My mom helps me a little bit and I help her a little bit.

Evie: Great.

Helen: Mm-hm. Yep.

Evie: And that's something you do now that you're older?

Helen: Yep. Thank you.

Evie: Do you have any good friends that you see often?

Helen: Not a lot.

Evie: OK.

Helen: Not a lot. Yeah. Good.

Evie: What was that?

Helen: I think you help me a little bit.

Evie: This is helping you?

Helen: Yeah, you.

Evie: OK, why do you feel like today is helpful?

Helen: You ask me a lot about myself.

Evie: Mm-hm.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: That feels helpful to be able to talk about different things?

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Is there anything that you have coming up this week or over the weekend that you're excited about?

Helen: Go to my friend's house to stay over the night.

Evie: OK you're going to a friend's house.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK and what do you guys plan to do?

Helen: Watch movies and go to lunch and stuff.

Evie: So you're excited for that?

Helen: Yeah. Yep.

Evie: OK. Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you or sort of your experience working or?

Helen: Nope.

Evie: OK, well it's been so nice to meet you.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: And we've learned a lot about you and your experiences and the people that are important to you in your life.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: Me and Marjorie want to thank you so much for talking with us and spending the afternoon with us.

Helen: Yep.

Evie: It was exciting for us to meet you as well.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: OK so if there's nothing else you'd like us to share or?

Helen: Nuh-uh.

Evie: OK well thank you again so much.

Helen: Yeah.

Evie: It's been a pleasure Helen.

Helen: Yep.

END


Photos by JJ Tiziou




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