In the powerful words of Brent Grove, Adult Protective Services Worker Peter VanRooyen has not just been a support system, “he has also been like a father.”
Peter has been helping Brent, who has a developmental disability, to live independently and thrive in the community for the last 25 years. Growing up, Brent experienced a fractured relationship with his family and lived in a group home setting until he was 18. Through the Adult Protective Services Worker Program, Peter was assigned to Brent to help him move out into the community, and became someone Brent could rely on through the years.
“I think I’m one of the constants in Brent’s life,” explains Peter. “I’ve been there, just as a supportive person.”
But for Brent, having Peter in his life has meant much more than that. Adult Protective Service Workers provide emotional support, advocacy and life skills so that individuals with developmental disabilities can live on their own effectively.
“If emergency stuff came up,” Brent explains, “it’s that that he’s helped me with. Needs have come up with a letter that I’ve got — he’s gave them a call and said it was all a misunderstanding. He’s done stuff like that to take the worry off my mind.”
Peter has also been there to talk through some of Brent’s goals and help turn them into realities.
“One thing that has always impressed me about Brent is his tenaciousness,” says Peter. “Once he sets a goal, once he wants to do something, he’s going to do it.”
One of Brent’s initial goals was to work on a farm. He’s now been working happily as a crop assistant on an organic vegetable farm for the last seven years.
“I love my job very much,” says Brent.
Part of Brent’s role requires driving a tractor. A few years back, Brent heard that it was going to be mandatory for anyone operating a tractor to have a driver’s licence. Brent went to Peter with the news, talking through the idea of getting his licence, and looking at what it would cost to purchase and maintain a vehicle.
Today, thanks to Peter’s advice and much of his own determination, Brent is the proud owner of a G2 license and a red truck that he drives to work each day. He also takes that truck to his weekly visits with Peter, which have turned into catch-up sessions more than anything now — a result of Brent’s improved ability to make sound choices for himself.
“These days,” Brent explains, “I’m making a lot of my own right decisions from what we have learned over the years, from when Peter has helped me.”
While Brent is thankful for everything Peter has assisted him with, it’s been his companionship — that offering of a stable, family-like connection — that he’s most grateful for.
“When I was 18 years old,” Brent says, “I didn’t really have a clue what the world was going to be all about. I was lost; I didn’t know who to turn to. But Peter’s been a wonderful person ever since I’ve known him, and I just want to keep building my relationship with him.”