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Living our values with my 88-year-old grandpa

At Opportunity Partners, I often talk about our values of Impact, Choice, Heart and Partnership as we work to advance the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Armando and Anselmo Camacho

Armando and Anselmo Camacho

However, I seldom talk about how these same values play out in our personal lives. I believe that when we recognize and embrace these values in all areas of our lives, it helps bring us even closer to these values in our work at OP.

Some of you may know that I came to Minnesota from Puerto Rico with my grandparents when I was 6 years old. My grandparents, who raised me, hoped for a better life for us here. I was fortunate to have many opportunities for education and employment as I grew into adulthood.

Four years ago, my grandma died, and my grandpa was struggling with health issues of his own. He gave up his apartment, and I helped find him an assisted living environment.

But recently, my grandpa, 88, had become increasingly unsatisfied here. His primary language is Spanish, and he struggled to communicate with frequently changing staff and often seemed confused due to his dementia.

However, one thing was clear: he said he wanted to return to his homeland of Puerto Rico to live closer to his sister and other relatives there.

At first, I did not think this would be possible. But then I began to consider how I might help my grandpa achieve this dream. In February, I bought my grandpa a one-way plane ticket and I traveled with him to get him resettled in Puerto Rico – in a place within walking distance to his sister.

As I worked through this major life change with my grandpa, the OP values of Impact, Choice, Heart and Partnership came to mind.

Impact – While my grandpa lived in the assisted living center, the staff around him worked to make a difference in his life. The senior care field faces similar challenges as the disability services sector in terms of staff wages, high turnover and budget constraints. I saw how the staff did the best they could in spite of these challenges, just as we do at OP.

Choice – At OP, we strive to help people lead self-directed lives as much as possible. We try to balance choice with the need for health and safety. In my grandpa’s case, his choice to move back to Puerto Rico was top in his mind. My job was to make sure my grandpa understood his decision fully, and that I found him a care center there that would meet his needs.

Heart – We strive to promote the dignity and worth of each other in our work at OP. For my grandpa, my desire to help him move back home centered around his dignity and worth. I did what I could to make it happen and to help make the transition smooth for him.

Partnership – Our work at OP depends on relationships, collaboration and advocacy. Likewise, for my grandpa, we have many medical and social service partners both here and in Puerto Rico that are working with us to coordinate his care and ensure his needs are met. As we say at OP – together, we are better!

In all, this experience with my grandpa has heightened my attention to the values of Impact, Choice, Heart and Partnership and why they are so important – not only at Opportunity Partners – but in all areas of our lives. And how the support of people like you – our OP “family” – makes all of our work possible.

Written by Armando Camacho, President & CEO, Opportunity Partners

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