Early in my career as a Case Manager for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I had the privilege to play a part in turning someone's dream into a reality. The person, we will call Joe, was a huge fan of cooking shows, especially Emeril Lagasse. Each year Joe wanted to see Emeril as he was Joe's favorite Chef and TV personality. During a planning session, Joe and I discussed hs desire to see Emeril. I posed a question asking Joe “What is it about Emeril that you love so much? Joe replied;” Emeril is a star, and everyone loves him. “The wheels began to turn in my head, and I had an epiphany. ask Joe If he would like to have his own own cooking show and be a star himself?
The first thing that we worked on was developing a plan. Joe's home had an open layout with an island between the kitchen and living area. So we settled on this as a perfect location for the show. Next I ask what materials and supplies we would need. Joe committed to making a list of supplies he would need. Joe also said he would come up with a set of menus for his episodes. I had recently purchased a camcorder, so I committed to filming and editing the episodes.
Joe's direct support staff was in attendance at his meeting. After the meeting had ended, she approached me and asked how I was going to make Joe a “Star”. I responded that I could not make Joe, a star alone. I explained that to make Joe's dream a reality we would have to have confidence in him and ourselves. I further explained that being a star was relative to Joe. His version of being a star was what he wanted to accomplish.
At our next meeting, Joe was prepared. He had his menu planned out in detail. He had his materials list ready to go. Joe was very excited. His direct support staff also expressed excitement. Joe said that he wanted to get a new apron and a chef hat to wear during his show. So we added these items to the list of supplies. I ask Joe to make a list of audience members he would like to attend his taping. We finished the meeting by scheduling a time to purchase the materials, supplies, invitations, and practice. Then we set the final show date.
Different task was divided out among Joe and his team. All materials were purchased, and invitations and flyers were sent out. Joe was so excited, and he stated that he could not believe he was going to be a star, just like Emeril. Joe and his support network finalized his script and practiced on delivering his message and preparing his requests. Our trail run was a success, and Joe was ready to tape his episodes in front of a live audience.
The day of the taping Joe was nervous. He said he hoped that people liked his show. Guest began to arrive and take their seats in the audience section. Taping had begun. Joe's Pecan crusted tilapia had turned out fabulously. As he plated the dish, he turned to the audience showing them his masterpiece. He then said, “BAM, It's Done.” The audience stand and erupted in applause. Joe was now a star, and it was all captured on video.
Close to a decade later, Joe still has his video series of cooking shows. It has become a right of passage to see its shows for any new support staff. I have long since moved on to other roles and am no longer Joe's Case Worker. To this day, every time I see him he says there is the man that made me a star. I always remember him that the star was always inside him, and I just captured a glimpse of it on video.
There were many people that made Joe's dream a reality. His direct support professionals were key in helping him stay motivated and providing the support and encouragement he needed. Support staff at first was a relationship, but soon realized that dreams can come true. Especially if we are willing to think outside the box and try. This fond memory is one of the many that I cherish. It reminds me that anything is possible and how much I love being a part of the human service field.