I recently made a visit to Loveland Center at the bequest of Tim Britt, a fantastic photog and community partner. Located in Venice, Florida, this facility is an innovative home for Special Needs people. Tim wanted me to see Loveland because we, Rock Soul Radio, are playing “Thunder by The Bay” again, and this place, along with others, is what that day is all about.
From the moment I pulled up, Tim started telling me all about the Center and the independence that it provides to the clients. I immediately whipped out my camera and rolled tape during most of the tour (the link is below). Lucky me, as soon as we walked into the main hall, I was informed that this was a luncheon for the clients and their families, and I was just in time to hear the Loveland chorus start singing “Lean On Me” (the Bill Withers tune). The joy on their faces is wonderful.
I once belonged to a foundation that performed concerts for people with special needs and their families. We were playing classic rock tunes for them and they knew every word and immediately jumped right in front of the speakers to dance, the phrase ‘Dance like no one’s watching you’ comes to mind.
As I went around meeting everyone I got plenty of hugs and smiles. I don’t know if you’ve ever spent time with people of special needs or Down syndrome, but I highly suggest it. Their genuine open hearts and willingness to smile, hug, hold hands and say “I love you”, is something we could all learn from and leaves you feeling happy. After the music, a group was formed to take me on a tour of the apartments and the complex. I learned that what makes this place unique is the independent life that it provides to its clients. They work to pay their own bills, they do their own shopping, have their own homes, all within Loveland Center.
The apartment we toured today was David’s ‘man cave’. The beautiful, bright, one bedroom one bath well-appointed apartment feels homey and there is a sense of pride that is apparent. This is no dismal institution- this is a home. It’s obvious that this group of people are friends and there’s a lot of laughing and good natured ribbing as friends do. As we wrapped up the tour, I was so grateful that The Band and I are a part of an organization that does so much for so many.
So, when you attend “Thunder by the Bay” or the offshore boat races realize that you are directly affecting your community in a positive and innovative manner, and being a good human while you rock out. What’s not to like? See you there. Yochim out.
photos by Tim Britt / TimTechandphoto