Creative Inclusion on a Special Day
It was a cool, drizzly day for a July wedding but neither the weather nor the current pandemic could stop the celebrations from happening for Scott and Veronica Van Vliet. Neither did those things stop them from sharing their special day with the residents in the Communitas home where Scott once served as a residential support worker.
“I had promised one of the residents that when I got married, I’d invite her to the wedding,” Scott remembers. “So when Veronica and I got engaged, I told her I’d invite her and everyone else in the home to the wedding.”
Scott worked in this home for two years while completing his psychology degree. The experience made an impact on him. He loved going on outings with the residents, especially when he could see how happy it made them. He formed such a strong bond that he continued to visit even after he left to pursue further academics.
The COVID19 pandemic brought an end to those visits and dramatically changed Scott and Veronica’s wedding plans. They began to adapt to their new reality and new plans included a drive-through receiving line. At first, Scott and Veronica thought this would be a great way to still be able to include the residents in their special day. They contacted Tanya Tomsic, who manages the home to work out the logistics. Tanya was touched that Scott would honour his promise, knowing that it would be very meaningful to the residents. But then Scott called back with an even better idea: instead of having the residents come to them, they would come to the home.
“I think it was even better because there weren’t any distractions and it was a trip specifically to see our individuals, making it very special for them,” Tanya says. “They felt cared for and included.”
The rain held off and when the newlyweds came around the corner in their convertible wedding car, they were met with a wonderful surprise. Staff and residents had made signs and cheerleader pom-poms to make their visit really festive. They lined up in the driveway and played “Celebrate” on their cellphones as the couple drove up. Scott and Veronica were overjoyed.
“They all looked so happy. It was so great to see their smiling faces,” Scott says. “I was also really happy to see that all the staff working that day were staff that I had worked with. It was a really nice surprise.”
The couple stayed long enough to visit and take photos with the group and each individual, making it a really special experience for everyone involved. Tanya says this thoughtful inclusion of the people that Scott has served through his work with Communitas speaks both to Scott’s character and to the nature of the people who work for the organization.
“Our staff are not just walking on shift, doing their job, and going home,” she says. “We are building relationships with the people we serve. Our staff are caregivers by profession and loving by their very nature. Scott is a kind, loving, enthusiastic person and it didn’t surprise me at all that he extended this invitation to the people with whom he built strong relationships.”
This fall, Scott will begin his master’s program in speech and language pathology. Veronica will go back to her work as a teacher. They are settling into married life together.
“We are very happy,” he says.
Tanya, the staff and residents of the home she manages, and all of us at Communitas, wish Scott and Veronica every happiness and success in their new life together!