36 Hours…. 200 People… 200 Miles Away…

11:15 a.m. the main crew gather in Operations to finalize the details for the day.

The planning and packing phase is over and it’s time to move. The phones now get forwarded to an answering service.

I walk around trying to stay out of everyone’s way. Some are milling about, most moving with purpose, but no one actually leaving yet.

The cafeteria is empty.

13 years ago was the first time I walked into that buiding- helping with change, but really just hanging out with my boyfriend at the time, Mark. Memories flooded back and I remembered bitter sweetly all the people I had met and lost from this one place. Lois and Cathy especially.

The halls are eerily quiet and empty.

Residents sit in the parking lot waiting. Many are sad, leaving their home and entering into the unknown.

Some huddle together and talk of other things, some stand alone deciding how they really feel.

Excited, anxious, all feelings they all share.

It’s going to be a long trip, everyone needs snacks, coolers get filled, crew vans are gassed up.

Let’s get everyone there safely and smoothly as possible.

Sean works great under pressure- hammer out the details so nothing is over looked. He’ll leave a little after the busses. They’ll take Us 27, nice and slow is the plan of attack.

“It’s been an experience in my lifetime,” says Ginny with a smile, “you can’t even imagine.”

Long time residents Sara and Jeremy say Princess, the little black dog that has gotten passed on from a former resident, had acted as a therapy dog this morning. The shelter has had an in house dog for as long as I can remember, so it seems fitting there is one here today.

Many people need assistance onto the bus via a handicap lift, so the boarding process is slow and dragging.

Mark says he’s calm, but as the parking lot empties out, the mood gets heavier.

Sean literally kisses his building goodbye, and laughs when he shares that with me- “I’ll be on the ground balling when they tear it down.”

Some residents are sunny optimists, treating today like a field trip, others like they’ve lost their best friend. The crew is moving right along following their orders from Sean and executing as usual- some occasionally offering a glimmer of how they are actually feeling.

One woman decides to go out with a bang, waiting until the last minute to decide whether she is stayiong or going and then starts a few arguments hashing out old injuries. She reluctantly boards the bus.

12:15 p.m.- busses are loaded, and then pull away- the staff that are leaving later today or tomorrow wave from the sidewalk and most of the passengers wave back – everything will work out.

60 pizzas have been ordered for dinner once they arrive. That comfort food may help ease them into their new home. Food always helps.

Scrap metal men have been waiting like vultures across the street and have no hesitation once the busses have left. They are sent away for the moment.

We still have a whole other truck to fill.

Sean needs to leave soon to be there when the busses arrive but he won’t budge until he’s sure everyone’s belongings are safely stowed- it’s a huge operation, a big responsibility and something his team has been helping him keep track of. Some of his closest staff will not be traveling on with everyone, a large detail that for the time being everyone seems happy to overlook.

4:05 p.m.- Arrived at the new place, and starting to settle in. It will be awhile before it feels like home, but they have each other and they will be just fine…



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