Growing Up

Ruth and Caley

Article Contributed by
Caley Wiltsie
Chautauqua Adult Day Services

Growing up, my mother and grandmother both cared for elderly people with disabilities that couldn’t live on their own. My grandmother had these people live with her, and my mother has worked at Chautauqua Adult Day Services for as long as I can remember. She often took me in to play games with the clients which I enjoyed and so did they.
We had a seminar about the treatment of individuals with disabilities in my college English class at Jamestown High School. My teacher, Mrs. Pirrello, brought up the idea of getting out in the community and spending time with these people. I immediately brought up the Adult Day Services, which is just two blocks away from our school. I contacted my mother and the Associate Director was very happy to have us come in.
There were a handful of clients in the room when we arrived on Tuesday, February 5th. One of the clients, as soon as she saw our group of twelve, yelled, “they’re here to play games with us! I’m so excited!” Our class split up into three small groups and each bonded with a few clients. My group, which consisted of two clients, my mom, and six students, passed the time by playing games such as Uno and Left, Right, Center. The students were very good with the two clients; being patient and helpful. The best part about my group was one of the clients; Ruth. Ruth was my grandmother’s client while I was growing up. When I was younger, Ruth and I would color, play card games, decorate Easter eggs, and hang out together all the time. Although she is roughly 60 years older than me, it was always easy for me to play with her. I always treated her the way I treated my friends, because that’s how I saw her.
The clients at the Day Services Center and all people with disabilities want the same thing – to be treated like everyone else. One of my classmates, William McArthur says the field trip showed him “how adults with disabilities are treated and how they need someone to talk to.” They are bright, happy, cheerful, optimistic, loving, caring, people. People with mental disabilities aren’t people that we should be afraid of.
We could all learn something from people with mental disabilities. Mrs. Latimer, a JHS special needs teacher with a special needs son, told our class that “he [her son] taught me how to enjoy life like an innocent child. He doesn’t see any negative in the world.” Even though having a special needs son isn’t easy all the time, she finds ways to persevere through it and have a positive outlook. My classmates all took something away from our field trip to Chautauqua Adult Day Services. Elijah McIntosh and Emma Pumford both say that the trip opened their eyes and showed them how people with disabilities learn new things. Another student says that she “definitely had stereotypes about people with special needs that aren’t true at all.” All of the students say that the experience was surprisingly fun and went by much faster than they expected. Many say they want to go back, stay longer and hang out with more of the clients.
Chautauqua Adult Day Services, offers senior day programs for adults sixty years of age and older who live in the community. The day programs enable seniors to have quality of life through socialization and activity programming. The sites provide breakfast, snack and a hot noon time meal for participants. There is also a Community Recreation Program that helps our seniors participate in outings in the community. The sites offer pet therapy, ceramics, music programs, arts and crafts and much more on an ongoing basis. In addition, the agency also has a “Saturday Program” in Jamestown which helps participants stay involved in community events and out-door recreation.
The Chautauqua Adult Day Care Services, is a not for profit United Way community partner, that provides an affordable option for older adults in the community to remain independent and at home
Chautauqua Adult Day Services, has four sites throughout Chautauqua County located in Westfield, Jamestown, and Dunkirk. One of its sites in Jamestown, the Present Center is a program specifically for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. For information: visit or call Westfield- (716) 326-6842 Dunkirk- (716) 366-8786 Jamestown- (716) 665-4899.