Cheese balls, 1970’s motown, rubber bands, balloons and dogs – these were just a few of Lawrence Jones’ favorite things.
“He loved to dance,” remembers Gale LeCount, ADEC program manager. “He would just grab me and dance.”
We don’t know much about Lawrence’s early life, but we do know that at four years old, Lawrence was admitted to the Allen County Children’s Home. He lived there until he turned 18 and moved into the Fort Wayne Developmental Center, an institution-type setting.
Irene Hargrove, ADEC’s residential training coordinator, remembers taking trips to visit her in-laws, house parents at the Allen County Children’s Home in the 1970s. Her family would bring their go-cart and other fun activities to do with the children on the weekends. In her work with ADEC’s group homes, she pulled out Lawrence’s file several years ago and realized he was one of the children they always saw.
“He was about 11 years old, and he was kind of loner, but he would come out to see what all the fuss was about,” Irene said.
Lawrence never passed up an opportunity for a go-cart ride and he always wanted to go fast.
In 1987, when Lawrence was 25 years old, he moved to Ashley Court Group Home, entered guardianship services and began attending day services at Bristol. When Foster Group Home was built two years later, Lawrence was one of the very first people to move in. He lived there for 27 years.
Over the years, Lawrence tried out several different jobs. Day services was not the best fit for him, as he needed one-on-one time with staff members. More often than not, he had community-based services where he would work with the assistance of a staff member.
At one point, a day services staff member set up an arrangement where she could pick up boxes for Lawrence to assemble during her commute from Coldwater, MI. Lawrence would work with a staff member at Foster to put together the boxes and would look forward to his paycheck for a job well done.
Lawrence also worked a paper route for several years, delivering the paper, always said very seriously. Staff would drive him along as he delivered papers to his route each day, proud of his contribution and excited for his paycheck.
At Lawrence’s memorial open house on Wednesday, Jan. 4, his ADEC friends (who had become family) gathered at Foster Group Home and enjoyed cheese balls while looking at the memory book he’d put together, highlighting more smiles than one can count. One thing was abundantly clear – Lawrence lived a life filled with choice and possibility here at ADEC.