By Darby Gregersen, Consumer Advisory Committee member
All of us need help and support throughout our lives, at different points and with different things. It is totally human, and one of the reasons it is so important to have a supportive circle of people in our lives to be there for us and vice versa. Realistically, for some things in life we might need different or additional help than what our loved ones are able to provide. Thankfully there are organizations like Chrysalis that can be there to help support us through specific processes and times in our lives. But what about those people in our inner circle? We can assist them in helping and supporting us by helping them understand what Chrysalis is and what they are doing for us. That is why I decided to ask my partner some questions related to Chrysalis and what they do. Hopefully sharing some of our experience can give others clarity around what and who Chrysalis is, and how to support the people who support you.
What is your understanding of what Chrysalis is and does?
“From my understanding, they help people that have mental and physical disabilities along with people with a criminal history find jobs that meet their needs or requirements. They provide people with opportunities to work with Chrysalis and their peers within the community. They also advocate on behalf of the person seeking employment.”
What is the CAC and how has it benefited Darby?
“People that take part in the Chrysalis program have the opportunity to be a part of the consumer advisory committee. This committee meets once a month to discuss changes and events that will affect everyone participating in the Chrysalis program. It gives people like Darby a chance to help her peers along with Chrysalis and give them a larger purpose in being with Chrysalis. In order to take part in the CAC you also are asked to take part in another one of their committees, such as the blog group that Darby is in. I know Darby loves to write so being in the blog group has been very fulfilling for her to write things she knows people in the community will read and possibly help by doing so.”
Are you aware of the Chrysalis Pops program and what it does?
“Yes! I drive Darby to the Feed Kitchen every Friday and see the joy on her face when I pick her up after her shift in her cute hairnet. I know Darby has been wanting to work for a long time and the COVID shut down really affected her chance at doing so, it has been amazing to see Chrysalis give her this chance to work with her peers at making delicious treats. Chrysalis Pops provides jobs for people like Darby, organically growing and harvesting the fruits and vegetables in the garden, working in the kitchen to make the popsicles, and finally selling the product at the Farmer’s Market and places like Whole Foods. The revenue is then used to help fund Chrysalis to continue its work within the community.”
In what ways have you learned how to best support someone with a disability?
“Be patient. It is important to know and understand that it is not your responsibility to try to fix everything for them, it is most important to just be there for them with love and support. Take the time to really listen to them and their struggles, know that you don’t always have to have the answers or say the right thing, sometimes all you need to do is listen and validate their feelings about their difficulties. If they ask for your help though, be there to help and make sure they know you are willing and able to help them in any way that you can. But also be honest with them about what and how you can help them. Help make sure that they are comfortable with asking you for help, because it can be difficult to ask for help.”
What suggestions do you have on how to take care of yourself when you love someone with a disability?
“Learn to be okay with asking for help yourself, because you can’t expect to help someone if you’re not getting the help you need as well. Take time for yourself as well and don’t take on their problems. By that I mean of course be there to help and support them but don’t mentally overwhelm yourself feeling that you need to solve the problem. Because not all problems can be solved and they usually aren’t solved within a day. Things take time so practice patience and always know that it is okay to ask for help yourself. Darby and Chrysalis have inspired me because I see first hand how difficult it can be living with a disability and asking for help, but when you do there are amazing programs out there like Chrysalis that can help you. I don’t need Chrysalis but I know that there are programs and people out there to help me with my needs, I just need to be able to ask for help. In short, take some time to do the things you love doing and ask for help when you need it.”