Matt is a young man in his 20’s who is married and has a two year old daughter. Brent is also in his 20’s. He is an enthusiastic and energetic young man who loves working with computers. Brent has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.

The two of them immediately took on to each other.

They get together weekly and talk through email and on the phone throughout the week. Brent likes the fact that Matt is his own age. Matt is a guy that Brent can hang around with and do guy things. Sometimes Matt and Brent go to Germantown high school games, go out for dinner, or even sometimes just hang around Wal-mart. Matt and Brent went golfing together, and this seems to be their new favorite activity. Brent drives the cart while Matt golfs and they both have a blast. Brent loves Matt’s sense of humor.

Brent has taught Matt a lot about himself and the world. He has learned the challenges Brent and his parents have to face everyday in going about their normal activities. Things such as getting in and out of the car and other people’s home are everyday activities most of us take for granted. Matt is learning how to understand Brent more clearly when he speaks. He is grateful that Brent never seems frustrated and is always patient with Matt as he learns. Matt is learning to break down some of his previous ideas about social rules and boundaries, and accept Brent for who he is, just as Brent has accepted Matt for who he is.

Matt has introduced Brent to his wife and daughter. Because of his willingness to do this, Matt isn’t the only one gaining something from the relationship. His whole family is. Brent and his daughter have a lot of fun together. When Matt talks to Brent on the phone, his daughter exclaims “Brento!” His wife says, “He has taught me to have a positive attitude no matter what.” Matt has learned that it doesn’t take a saint or a hero to become an advocate for Citizen Advocacy. It simply takes someone who is willing to share their life with someone else and invest the time and energy to get to know them deeply and see them more clearly for who they are. Isn’t that what genuine relationships are all about?

Sarah Johnson

Program Coordinator