My work family at Community Entry Services was devastated to learn one of our clients, aged 72, passed away this month. This loss further reminded me of the critical role CES plays in Jackson that goes widely unacknowledged.

Since 1980, CES has provided adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries in Jackson Hole with supplemental services and/or 24-7-365 care from the time they graduate high school until the end of their lives.

What does 24-7-365 care look like?

Community Entry Services staff help clients wake up in the morning, make breakfast, access medications, get dressed and complete hygiene routines. CES helps some clients physically eat and use the bathroom. They help with showers, laundry, dishes, and lawn care.

CES provides all transportation to work, to doctors appointments, to events, to anywhere they need to go. They coordinate therapeutic services including physical, behavioral, and occupational therapy as well as music and art therapy and therapeutic riding. CES provides opportunities to have fun during the day with adaptive sports including biking, hiking, skiing, hockey, swimming, and more. CES helps clients train for and participate in the Special Olympics.

CES helps clients open mail and pay bills. They help clients find jobs at dozens of local businesses, and then staff accompanies clients to many of those jobs to coach them through their tasks.

CES helps clients navigate personal and professional relationships. They help clients navigate the grocery store, bank, coffee shop, and other public spaces. CES does everything. And they do so all while individualizing each person’s care so that each client can live as independently as possible.

When Community Entry Services does so much, I feel frustrated when I tell people about CES and I’m asked if they are “with” or “under” other local organizations who work with adults with disabilities, but who have existed for a fraction of the 40 years that CES has and who provide singular services and not the comprehensive, holistic services that CES does. That is not to say what these organizations accomplish is not important, but they’re not helping individuals brush their teeth, they’re not sitting with them in the doctor’s office acting as their advocate, they’re not helping them in the bathroom in the middle of the night. And CES staff are.

The vital role Community Entry Services plays in our community needs to be more actively celebrated and supported.

When our client passed away, he wasn’t alone. He was with a CES staff member who provided him care literally to the end of his life. Since learning about this sweet man’s sudden passing, I have had a hole in my heart. But I have the solace of knowing he lived a fuller life thanks to Community Entry Services.

It is time for Jacksonites to stand fervently behind CES and the work they do. I encourage my fellow Jacksonites to learn more about CES and the services they provide our community members with intellectual and developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries.

Anne Marie Wells is a Community Entry Services employee and a writer. Guest Shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

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