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For Laurie Ramey, it was never work – it has always family and fun


If you’re ever down and need a pick-me-up, forget the ice cream or shopping spree. Call Laurie Ramey – she’s full of positive energy and optimism complete with a Texas tone that’s not quite southern drawl but just as welcoming. 


“My take-away has always been ‘how can I help and let’s have some fun,’” she said, while trying to sum up 30 years of living – don’t call it working – with people who need some extra support. “Ok, you’re scared, how can I help you? You’re angry, what can I do to help?” 


For Laurie Ramey it was never work – it was always fun, problem solving, sharing time and having fun.”   


Laurie moved from Texas to North Stonington with her family and pet horse back when the Ladd Center was still in the process of shutting down. She went from working as an antiques restorer to learning what her true calling was.  


Like many who have spent decades devoted to supporting people living with disabilities of any type, Laurie agrees that the transition to inclusion and community living has been the most meaningful change in the profession, though it has come with many challenges. 


“It was intimidating for many people to get comfortable with it, both those with disabilities and those without. Not everybody is community-oriented, but it’s been wonderful, joyful really, to have seen the change,” Laurie said.  

Laurie was well ahead of most when it came to inclusion, turning her small farm into a community of acceptance, support – and tranquility. It was routine for Laurie to host picnics and day trips for Olean Center participants and staff over the years. They could help in the care and feeding of the animals if they wanted, or just watch. She found that being around the animals always made everyone calm and happy. She created sensory garden paths that also provided a calming atmosphere, and because her land bordered Pachaug State Forest she would offer carriage rides as well. She even provided respite services for families, allowing individuals to stay at the farm.

 

“It was just wonderful,” she said with that touch of Texan in her voice. “I’ve always felt that animals are magic when someone is stressed. The Olean Center participants would come to my farm – we made everything wheelchair accessible, and the barn had concrete aisles for access to the horses – and we’d have parties with my family involved too. We had holiday parties with horses eating at the picnic tables with us!” 

Laurie lives in Exeter now and is partially retired, but she does provide home services for two individuals, including a woman she’s known for years. “I have a picture of her years ago holding one of my granddaughters at the farm and my granddaughter is 19 now!” she said. 


“One of my granddaughters is also just starting in the field,” she notes with pride in her voice.  

“She told me the other day that her coworker asked her how she knows so much about the job already and she told them ‘I got it from my grammy.’” 




 

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