Sister Madeline Hanot was a woman who lived as though she expected to win the lottery, but never got around to buying a ticket.
She was an impractical person, but always full of joy. said Sister Mary Lancaster, who knew her well. She loved these people (the developmentally disabled) and thought that money should be no object when they needed help, and nobody dared refuse her.
I remember the Bishop always said, If she asked me for something, I may as well tell her yes the first time, because I was bound to anyway by the 25th.
Hanot came to America in 1958 from a Catholic order in Belgium, the Daughters of the Cross, and settled at the orders cloister in Tracy.
A short, slightly round woman, with a smile made slightly quirky by her loosely spaced teeth, she spoke French, English and a little Portuguese. She served in missions in England and Brazil before coming to Tracy.
She spoke all those languages, and somehow got them all wonderfully mixed up, said Sister Mary, who served with her at St. Bernards School in Tracy.
She had worked with disabled people all her life and was appalled at the treatment they received in institutions. Together with a cadre of parents of developmentally disabled children, she insisted on trying to provide a quality of life she believed they deserved, said Nick Curtin, who began working with her in 1979.
Madeline Hanot and the parents she worked with wanted something better. They wanted a home big enough to provide quality service, without the confining feel of an institution.
Yet the state had mandated board and care homes be limited to six beds.
(The state) meant well, Curtin said. They believed that smaller was better, and big was bad, because they equated big with an institutional feel, which is what they wanted to get away from. But we felt that we could provide a better environment with a fully equipped home with sufficient staff.
The Hanot Foundation incorporated in 1973 and began raising money for their goal. In June 1979, the foundation opened the first section of the home at its current location outside of Lockeford. There was a second home built in San Andreas, which the Hanot Foundation owned and operated for 18 years, but which has now been taken over by another nonprofit group.
Hanot Foundation includes many parents on the board, and there is a great deal of parental involvement, said Fran Riley, whose daughter, Julie, lives at the home.
|Mark McCann relaxes on the Hanot swing set. (Jennifer Matthews-Howell/News-Sentinel)
I dont agree with the smaller homes, said Riley, who is on the board of directors of Hanot. Often there are just a few people (in the smaller homes), and many are nonverbal. If something happens that is inappropriate or not in the best interest of the residents, it may go unreported.
At Hanot, there are plenty of staff members. My daughter gets immediate medical attention, check-ups. If she needs to go to the dentist, it is taken care of. Her clothes and hygiene are maintained. She always looks clean and cared for. The residents get A-1 meals, and the staff is long-term. I know they know my daughter and care about her. Its almost like a dormitory with a chauffeur.
Out in the sun
In good weather, everyone who is able goes outside for a group bike ride around the property. The sidewalks curve around the buildings and stay within the grounds, avoiding the light traffic on Sargent Road. Other times, they may walk or get up a game of catch on the spacious lawn.
Mark McCann, a handsome thirty-something man with ruddy cheeks and dark wavy hair, accompanies the visitor outside. At first, it isnt obvious whether he is staff or resident. Hes active and engaging, and eager to share his opinions. He has lived at Hanot for 10 years, he said.
Before that I lived with my mommy, McCann said. I like to go on the swings when it is hot.
Glory Hudson, whose 38-year old son, Tom, lives at Hanot said, As most parents of a child with special needs, our biggest concern was who would care for Tom after we were gone. We have never felt that our other children should be burdened with his care. We felt that Tom should be less dependent on our care. He needed to learn to live away from home while we were still able to help him adjust to the change.
|Tom Hudson removes chicken from the oven at the Hanot home. (Jennifer Matthews-Howell/News-Sentinel)
Hanot is licensed to house residents up to age 59 1/2. The thought of sending residents off to live in a new place when they reach this milestone was unacceptable to the founders, so with a donation from the estate of Mary Frances Hat, they built and dedicated a wing in her name which met the states requirements for a level three senior facility.
This meant additional care levels and supervision, but for now, the Mary Frances Hat wings six additional beds accommodate Hanots residents when they reach senior status.
Everyone is happy
Darryl King is a resident of the senior wing. A diminutive 5 feet 4 inches tall with thinning, once-blond hair and large, slate blue eyes, his heart-shaped face bears a perpetual impish grin, like a little boy who knows he is cute because he has been told so many times. The only hint of his status is his slightly protuberant forehead and flattened backskull, signposts of Downss syndrome.
Dressed in blue and red striped rugby shirt over baggy cargo shorts with leather sandals and white knee socks, he sidles over to administrative assistant Jan Irons who is conducting an interview, and lays his head on her shoulder. He aims a smooch at her neck and grins, Hello, sweetie. I love you. She tilts her head affectionately toward his, and manages I love you too, between sentences explaining the challenges of negotiating state funding.
I love coming to work here every day, said Irons, who has been at Hanot six years. Everyone is happy. You wont find a lot of long faces.
Secretary Linda Wohl agrees.
You come here thinking you will work for a couple of years, she said. But you wind up staying. You get so attached to the people.
Long tenure seems to be a hallmark of the place.
Hanots cook, Julia Bishop, has been here 15 years and said she never tires of her job. A short, gray bob frames her lean face, which seems stern at rest, but is brightened by a quick smile when she talks about her work and the people she helps. She is clearly proud when she shows off the big modern kitchen and resident facilities.
Its a very nice home we have here, she said.
Bishop prepares three meals a day, plus snacks and boxed lunches for the residents, helped by Susan Hufford, on staff for 13 years. It is family cooking on a grand scale. Desserts are rare, since many of the residents have a tendency to weight problems.
They have the metabolism of adults with the appetites of children, Bishop said, explaining that many have Downs syndrome, which can carry metabolic complications leading to weight gain.
Still, there is the occasional treat of shortcake when strawberries are in season, and once a month someone has a birthday, which rates a party with cake and ice cream.
Gilbert Hunter, a 59-year-old resident at Hanot, washes up and stops by his closet for a sweater. His room is cozy, with beige carpet and a blue and brown patterned comforter on the twin bed. Wedgwood-blue curtains flutter softly in the breeze from his courtyard window. Bowling trophies and sports posters decorate the walls, and he has a radio and a TV near his bed.
After dinner it was meatloaf with fresh green beans and strawberry shortcake for dessert, a special treat Gilbert is still excited. He can hardly wait to get up for the ball game tomorrow.
He walks outside to the big swing set in the backyard. Settling on one of the broad U-shaped seats, he grasps the chain handles on either side, and kicks his toes into the sand for purchase. He pushes back and glides forward, pushing again when his shoes scrape the ground. As he rises higher in the air, he can see over the fields and vineyards that surround his home, and he smiles when he thinks about tomorrow.
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