Welcome to The Jungle

“I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.” – Calvin Coolidge

7 o’clock on a Tuesday morning could not come soon enough. As I lay restless awaiting my first experience of the District I could not help but think what change was to come. What influence I could make moving from a big fish in a small pond to a small trout in a colossal lake. What sort of new individuals I would meet that would throw into my melting pot of perspective. Making my way to work on that Tuesday morning was the hardest part of my beginning transition. The metro was packed fully with employees of different work environments all seeking to do the same thing as me. Be somebody. Thus, begin my journey into the concrete jungle.

My workplace was on the northwest side of town, considering to be one of the healthier parts of the District. Walking into the building I was in a brand new environment with limited knowledge on who I may run into.  I knew as soon as I entered the doors I wanted to stick out from everybody else. I was placed in the lobby by a delightful receptionist while waiting for my supervisor to bring me up to my new home. I was toured around the office and met everyone I would be working with or that would be helpful to me in completing my daily tasks. Accepting as well as inviting I knew that I made the right choice working with the Long Term Care Coalition and building my base in D.C.

The roots of where my passion with the LTC Coalition began was with my memories with my grandparents as a young boy. Growing up I was and still am very close with my grandparents and they shaped me into the man I am today. My grandfather was diagnosed with dementia in his later stages of life and what slowly began as memory hiccup snowballed into something much worse. It began with forgetting something he may have told me earlier in the day to completely forgetting who I was. Growing a connection with someone for so long and then seeing it vanish is heart breaking. I remember seeing him in the nursing home in his later stages and one day he looked at me puzzled and confused. He did not know my name or why I was next to him. Stunned and emotionally troubled, I left with my parents wondering what to do next.

This is all what brought me here today. The hardest moments in life will always define who you are as a person and can either make or break your spirit. It is all a matter of how you take it and what you determine to do next. I moved from being a part of a small rural college town in Ohio to being put right on D.C.’s doorstep in healthcare. Last week I wrote a proposal letter from the Medical Care Advisory Committee to D.C.’s city council requesting for a program to deliver homemade meals to older adults as well as people with disabilities that are not financially potent. Small steps like this can all build up to a big change that supports many. This was only my first week in the nation’s capital which granted me the thought, what sort of beast will I take on next?

-Drew Ridgway

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