We Put the Community in Target Community (& Educational Services)

This past Friday evening, I had the privilege of tagging along on an outing to Baltimore with residents of the Kings View and College Square houses. Russ, Linda, and Deb, accompanied by Eryn and Megan, had an extra ticket to the Adam Sandler comedy show. We also had a meal at the Hard Rock Café.

In high school, a shirt from the Hard Rock was a status symbol; in college, it was a Black Dog t-shirt. This was my first visit to one of the themed restaurants, and I was not leaving without one of the shirts.

I have written about the commitment to community engagement with Target participants. This is the gift of working in a human services agency. Working as an advocate and through policy action to improve community access for underserved or marginalized populations can be frustrating and exhausting. Still, when we go out into the community and benefit from that access, we see the fruits of our collective work.

Something as simple as being able to navigate a parking garage, a restaurant, a concert venue, and sidewalks alongside a wheelchair user in remembrance of a time when even using a sidewalk was impossible for someone with mobility needs is a joyful experience. I am not going to lie; the seating at concerts for wheelchair users is highly desirable and offerings someone with long legs a much more comfortable evening.

Sandler’s performance was hilarious. We laughed. I might have even cried. Adam closed the show with a tribute to his friend and fellow Saturday Night Live cast member, Chris Farley. It was a touching remembrance and it hit me hard. My relationship with Sandler’s work is mostly related to SNL. He was on the show when I was in junior high and high school. That time in life when we are at home in the late hours of a Saturday. In the age before video-sharing platforms, there was a sense of urgency not to miss the weekly show. Monday school lunch table discussions centered on the hilarity of the week’s show, the musical guest, and the host’s monologue.

As life moved on and our social lives evolved to being out on Saturday night the importance of the weekly ritual fell by the wayside. So, there we are, Debbie and I, experiencing Sandler’s love for his friend. Transported back to the time in which that cast played such a large role in our social experience. A nostalgia bomb blew up in my thinking. I remembered all the people with whom I shared those conversations, those laughs, and the sadness of Farley’s passing.

My thoughts were interrupted by Debbie’s suggestion that I behave. She tells me to behave almost every time I see her. I told her that I would behave; typically, I refuse. She told me I had to behave all week. This was a sweet moment. Fully rooted in the present but tethered tightly to the past.

On the drive down we listened to music and a song about growing old together played over the van’s radio. Deb, Linda, and Russ are among the participants that I will grow old with. We will grow old together. What a gift. A life of service, knowing that we will continue to participate in the community, share evenings outs, and all life has to offer…together. This is what the community in Target Community and Educational Services is all about. A past, present, and future, lived together. The best life. The best life lived in a Hard Rock Café t-shirt. So worth it!