Ron and Jan Ewers, with Program Manager Patty Medley (r) and Donnie Ewers (seated.)
It’s been about overcoming challenges their entire lives for Ron and Jan Ewers. It was challenging for them 27 years ago when they fell in love and decided to get married, for there was still uncertainty from some areas about people with developmental disabilities getting married. Their enduring marriage has put to rest any concerns from skeptics from all those years ago.
There was the challenge that came with Ron’s weight. So heavy was he at one point that his life was in danger, so heavy that his Program Manager Patty Medley and staff at Choices In Community Living advocated strongly with medical professionals until he was approved for gastric bypass surgery. It has not been an easy journey, but he is now right where he should be. “He is where the doctor wants him to be,” says Patty. “Ron and I talk and look up foods that are good for him. We talk about what to do when he is in a restaurant and they give him too much food. We look up lots of different foods so he isn’t having the same food all the time. It’s a challenge at times, but he has come such a long way. I am so very proud of him!”
They not only dreamed of married life together, but of making a home together. Like so many couples, they had that one big dream – the one they call the American dream – to own their own home.
That dream too would not come to be without its challenges. Patty remembers the persistence, patience and tenacity it took to even envision that dream. She and her staff worked side by side with Ron and Jan for more than two years as they saved money for a down payment and as they worked with the bank to get financing. “Ron and Jan had no credit,” Patty shares, “so we worked with them to establish credit through their utility bills. We put some in Jan’s name and some in Ron’s. We were going to find a way to convince a bank that they deserved the same opportunity as any other potential homeowners. We had to get them pre-approved!” Pre-approved they finally were and in 2015 they moved into their very own home after being renters for more than 20 years. They are now “enjoying” all the responsibilities of home ownership, which now includes remodeling their kitchen, putting in new cabinets and a back splash.
They are like their neighbors. They love to entertain their friends. They have cook outs in the summer and play games. In the winter they watch movies or play cards. They like to dance, shop and fish. Jan loves to get her nails done.
They wanted that home for the two of them. It was their dream as a couple. It was, however, not the only part of their dream. There was something bigger than the dream of owning a home just to own a home. There was that other dream – the dream of a family being together – after years of separation – a family re-united – that was what this new home would mean.
Ron has a twin brother, Donnie. While Ron found love, a wife, a home, his place in the community, Donnie spent most of his life in institutions. Ron never forgot his brother, never! There was that bond between them no matter how separated they were – that brother bond – that twin bond – more connected than most brothers because they were twins. He had this really big dream that he could and would do something so that Donnie could have some of the same opportunities he had. In June, 2015, Donnie moved into that home with his brother and his sister-in-law – in that home they wanted so much for themselves and they wanted even more for him. Ron and Jan wanted that. They made that commitment. Patty and their staff made that commitment as well. Donnie would not only find family with his brother and his wife. He would find family with those who are now dedicated to enriching his life, the same people who have been there by Ron and Jan as their dreams have been realized.
In May, 2016, Ron and Donnie, in that home that speaks of so many challenges met and overcome, celebrated their birthday together, the first time in 38 years!