Posted on December 28, 2021
Written by Hank Snow, Owner, Hunt Country Construction – Whitehall, MD
I have been in the construction business for 37 years, building and remodeling homes and doing repairs. Yet in all that time, I have only received one handwritten “thank you” note for my work. It came from a DSP at a Penn-Mar community home who told me how everyone there enjoyed my visit and how one resident in particular would be missing me “a lot.”
My relationship with the organization started with a small repair some 10 years ago and it has just blossomed from there. I could be having the worst possible day, but once I show up at Penn-Mar all my troubles are instantly erased because I am surrounded by people filled with joy and happiness.
Before COVID, and all the restrictions that went with it, it was not unusual for me to walk through a door at Penn-Mar and give a hug to the ladies and shake hands with the men who ran up to greet me. I felt like a celebrity! I consider them friends and colleagues and am delighted to say the feeling is mutual.
Like all of us, people with disabilities have varied interests, personalities and skills. I have learned so much from them.
I remember one man I met at the Ridge Road home who noticed a lockset I had with a factory defect. He said, “Give it to me, Hank. I can fix it.” I did not know at the time that his father had a mechanic shop, but after he fiddled with it for just 10 minutes, he handed it back to me working perfectly!
Eric on Beckleysville Road was initially very quiet with me. He was hard to win over but there is a lot of love between us now. He is like a son to me. One day while I was laying tile in a bathroom he picked up the rhythm of the work and started handed me tools and materials before I even needed them. He’s that smart. Finally, I said to him, “OK, that’s enough watching. It’s time you started earning your keep.” He then started laying the tiles in the wall perfectly. Eventually I pulled money out of my pocket to compensate him for his services and he gave it to his DSP to pay for his ice tea.
While working in one of the ladies’ homes, a woman there proudly handed me a screw she found on the floor from a TV mount. I made sure I paid her for her diligent work to police the site to make sure it was clean and safe.
Some of the people with disabilities I have met over the years have a humorous way of seeing and expressing things.
One woman who greets me every time with “Today is my birthday” always wanted to know who I was and what I was doing there. Once I told her she was almost the same height as my wife (4’1”) and she replied, “That makes you my husband!” So now, every time I come through the door she says to her housemates, “It’s OK, he’s my husband.”
My friend Chris carries my picture with him everywhere. He tells me we’re going to move to California together where he’s going to adopt me and be “the best mother I could ever have.”
As a group, I find the folks at Penn-Mar to be so happy and appreciative. They are just full of sunshine. I wish more people would take the time to get to know them better. I assure you, it’s a blessing to be fortunate enough to tag along with them on their life journey.