The premiere of The World Got Smaller: The Spirit of The Guild During COVID-19 is right around the corner! Each week, we've been featuring students, residents, staff, and parents interviewed in the film on our blog. This week, we sat down with Kaitlyn Tarr, Billerica House resident, and her mother, Sue.
How long have you been involved with The Guild?
Sue: We first joined The Guild family in September of 2012 when Kaitlyn started as a day student and transitioned into the residential program in November that same year. The decision to place Kaitlyn in a residential program was not easy for us, but it quickly became evident that it was the right one. Every staff member was positive, friendly, patient, and genuinely cared about the kids.
When it became time to think about the transition to adulthood and moving into an adult home, we were determined that Kaitlyn would remain at the Guild. Fortunately, we were able to find a placement for her, and Kaitlyn moved into her new adult home on February 3rd, 2020. One month later, the world shut down.
Kaitlyn, what was it like at the beginning of the pandemic when you entered the first period of lockdown?
Kaitlyn: I felt confused about what was going on.
What were some of the biggest challenges the Covid-19 pandemic brought for your family?
Sue: The Covid-19 pandemic brought fear, uncertainty, and panic to the world, but as parents of an adult living in a residential program, we also felt guilt and worry. Due to a family emergency, we couldn't see Kaitlyn as planned before the shutdown. Had we known what was about to happen, we would have tried harder to be there that day (March 13th). We were worried because the last thing Kaitlyn told us was that she felt sad and missed her "people" at her former residence, Willow House.
The Billerica staff helped Kaitlyn call us every night. Every single night we could tell her about our day, read her books, and say bedtime prayers together. It was a huge comfort for us, and I think for Kaitlyn too. When we finally got to see Kaitlyn on June 15th, 2020, Kaitlyn went on her iPad (without prompting) and told us that "she was feeling happy" and pointed to pictures of staff at her new Billerica home. This meant the world to us. Our trust and belief in The Guild and their dedicated staff to care for Kaitlyn and help her feel safe was validated.
Kaitlyn: The hardest part of the pandemic was that I really missed seeing my family.
How are things different now than they were back in early 2020?
Sue: After June 15th, 2020, life got much better! We got to visit Kaitlyn in person, and eventually, she could come home and spend the night with us. One of our daughters, Elizabeth, and her then-fiancé Edwin had a "drive-in" wedding on June 27th, 2020, that Kaitlyn attended with staff! After constant requests from Kaitlyn, she was finally able to go horseback riding in late fall of 2021.
Currently, we can see Kaitlyn weekly and continue to talk to her most nights. We've been able to enjoy being together for family events and holidays again. Kaitlyn started attending a day program two days a week this August, but we don't know when she will participate in the program full-time. She still does not wear a mask, and it can be a challenge to be aware of which towns have mask mandates when we are out in the community. Our family is eagerly looking forward to continued brighter days. Most of all, we are very thankful for all the care and support we, and especially Kaitlyn, received during this time from the Guild.
Kaitlyn: Now I can go to my day program, which I really enjoy. I can also go horseback riding at Windrush Farm!
The World Got Smaller: The Spirit of The Guild during COVID-19 will premier on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. Register for this virtual event here!