You know that saying “It’s a God thing”? Well, there are so many “God things” over the course of the life at BVT that it has become difficult to keep track of them all. It is my full intention to one day sit down and write an account of each of the ones I have been involved in for future recollection. Sometimes, it’s the “little” stories that have some of the biggest impact on us.
Here’s just one “God thing” that occurred this last month…
As you know, BVT has touched the lives of countless people over the last 23 years: the current residents who call this place their home, those who have called it home previously, and our day program attendees who rely on BVT for their continued social and life enrichment programs.
But too, the impact goes so far beyond just those directly served…including the families of the residents, the volunteers, the staff, the donors…all who have trusted, devoted, and have been touched by the ministry impact of BVT.
Then, there is one more group who is also impacted by BVT: the families of the staff who work here.
I have no doubt that the families of our staff can feel the passion and love that our staff exuberate in their daily lives. We say that when you come to work at BVT, it becomes engrained in who you are. There’s something special about this place that makes us want to naturally share it with others. Our staff are walking examples of Christ’s light in a dark and broken world. Their light shines wherever they go and it’s hard for others not to notice. It’s common for our families to share the same passion.
My children have created an annual tradition of holding a lemonade stand for our neighborhood each summer. They look forward to being able to bring a smile to another’s face with the simplicity of lemons, sugar and water. And while they don’t do it for the money, they certainly get a kick out of someone putting some change or a couple of dollars in their “tip jar.”
Following another successful lemonade stand this summer, as usual, the kids emptied their tip jar and proudly stacked the dozens of $1 and $5 dollar bills and loose change that others generously gave. For whatever reason, their lemonade stand this year was the most successful one yet.
Customarily, upon the closure of their annual “one weekend” enterprise, the kids gather a percentage of their earnings to give back to a ministry of their choosing. When asked where they wanted to give some of their money to, without hesitation
they said “Breckenridge.” So, we gathered up a portion of the weekend’s earnings and set aside for Breckenridge.
A week or two later, my wife brought the kids out to Breckenridge so they can personally hand deliver their gift to Linda Taylor. Linda sat down with the kids in her usual cheerful and energetic way to explain how their money goes to improve the lives of others and how impactful their gifts are to continuing the mission of BVT that was started long ago. Linda picked up some photographs of the residents and one by one told the kids how their money will impact each one of the residents named.
Linda begins to proudly count out the donation of $1s and $5s…then after shuffling the money back into a stack, we pose for a photograph for the kids to remember the moment.
After posing for the photo, Linda looks down, gasps, and then puts her hand over her face, as tears begin to form in her eyes. I wasn’t sure what to make of her reaction.
She then points to the top bill of the stack… the name “Jimmy” clearly written.
Out of the 100+ bills the kids received from their weekend’s worth of work, and out of all them chosen to be given to BVT, and out of all of those to be put on the very top, and out of all the names for someone to write on a dollar bill (for whatever reason)…this was the one displayed for the photo.
I don’t believe in coincidences, especially with things like that. An incredible reminder to Linda, to me, to my kids… of why we give, why our work should never be about us, and why we keep the mission on top. It’s about Jimmy. It’s about the residents. It’s about caring for others.
Jimmy Breckenridge was the whole reason for BVT’s existence. And this consequential event will forever live in my mind as a reminder of not only why I do what I do, but who I do it for…not just the two kids who I care for with all my heart, but for the 50+ others who also rely on me for their everyday care.
What a responsibility…what a privilege…and what a great reminder.
Always remember friends, when you travel rough roads and go through tough terrain, never forget your “why.” And may you also always remember…you can do hard things.
Until next time,
James Lawrence Breckenridge, known by those closest to him as Jimmy, passed away in 2020. Though he was diagnosed with Down syndrome at an early age, Jimmy’s capacity for joy, expression of love and his deep desire to communicate with the people whose company he treasured was never limited, nor was the love and care of his family. When she was alive, Jimmy’s mother, Jean, had a life-long dream to establish a group home to care for Jimmy and others who had intellectual and developmental disabilities. Even with this ambitious dream, Jean was faced with the every present reality of who would care for Jimmy when she was no longer able or alive. In the spring of 1998, with the help of BCFS System President and CEO Kevin Dinnin, BVT officially opened and became the home of Jimmy and 23 others. BVT would be Jimmy’s home for 22 years and would be where he took his final breath before leaving his Breckenridge Village family to be united with his Heavenly Father and his loving father, mother and brother.