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Dolly unites residents during social distancing


What do you do when travel and visitation is limited because of COVID-19? You call in Dolly.

What started as a craft activity at one of Citizen Advocates’ residences in Brushton, soon evolved into a collaborative effort for the entire organization.

Dolly, a distant cousin of Elf on the Shelf, would be hidden or staged in an elaborate scene by the home’s residents for staff on the incoming shift to find.  The Brushton House is a supported home designed to provide its residents with highly personal and individualized services allowing them to live a life of their choosing.

Ryan Deragon places his thumbprint on the Friendship Tree. Ryan is a resident at the Brushton house.

“All of our normal routines and activities were disrupted by Covid, so we wanted to do something fun and creative everyone would look forward to,” said Amy Langlois, Direct Support Professional. “Eventually it became so popular, we ran out of places to hide Dolly so we came up with the idea to send her to other houses within the Citizen Advocates family.”

Dolly was sent on her journey with a large drawing of a tree, known as the Friendship Tree, and a booklet. Equally important, Dolly and the materials traveling with her were disinfected frequently and handled with gloves. 

“The idea behind the tree was to have individuals put their painted thumbprint on the tree so it would blossom into a beautiful tree of friends,” explained Ms. Langlois.  “The booklet had empty pages so residents from our homes could each share a message about what they like about living where they do – it was such a fun organization-wide activity that took on a life of all its own.”

Some of the comments from the residents included:

“Being able to put my feet up and relax.”

“Having the freedom to do what we want.”

“Having staff that love us and care a lot about us!”

Not only did Dolly make the journey around Franklin County, she travelled all the way to Joshua House in Sidney, N.Y.  Joshua House is an affiliate of Citizen Advocates.

For now, Dolly is back home in Brushton relaxing from her long journey. 

To learn more about Community Living and Housing services, click here.