Staff and friends from Choices joined together on August 7th to help Richard Boze celebrate his 85th birthday with a big cake and party. Helping him celebrate are Program Administrator Amy Jewsikow, Richard’s Program Administrator Diann Reid and his friend Tom Barnes.
Richard’s engaging smile and endearing personality are testimonies to his inner strength and perseverance. He has faced and overcome many challenges in his life, including years of institutionalization at the Gallipolis Institution. While there were difficult times at Gallipolis, he still has some good memories of that time as well, including the friends he made over the years, chopping wood and other activities.
He enjoys sharing those memories with staff and friends, providing insight not only into what it was like in the institutions but into the depth of that need within all of us to find home and family no matter the circumstances. He reminds us daily that we must never forget that while we think of institutions only in negative terms, that for Richard and his friends, they were the only homes they knew for so many years.
He has also survived cancer. Celebrating his 85th birthday, he is the oldest person served by Choices. He has been a member of our extended family since 1987. Prior to that he lived for 13 years in what was then called the Salvation Army Temporary Shelter after coming back home from the institution.
He has been serving as our Wish List Ambassador this year, his way of expressing his gratitude for his new hearing aides. Soft-spoken, polite and gracious, he is happy to share his home with his housemate Dan. He also likes going to the Senior Resource Connection three days a week and participating in their activities and just visiting with other seniors and sharing stories from his past, stories few of them could ever imagine could have been a part of this gentle man’s life.
He has come through those dark days of institutionalization and illness to be admired, respected and loved for the man he is today at the young age of 85.