is good with Matt and Steve
by Andrew Gerber
Six hungry men sit anxiously at the table, their stomachs growling,
while five of them ponder whom the cook will ask to pray. A rule
was established during the first month I lived at Vita House that
the cook has the right to ask whomever he chooses to say grace.
I had the privilege of cooking that evening, so I asked Matt Troyer,
the well-known 6-foot-7-inch resident of Vita House, to do the honors.
Matt, would you please say thanks?
Well, I could say the prayer or Steve could do it. (Whenever
Matt is asked to say prayer, he usually attempts to pass his responsibilities
off to the first person he sets his eyes on.)
Matt, I asked you to pray and I will offer to start or finish
the prayer for you, I persist.
Ughhh okay Andrew, Ill start if you want me to.
My living environment is rather unique for a 22-year-old college
student. While my classmates who see me on campus would probably
say that my life seems typical, my entire weekly routine is anything
Last spring, I attended a country dance at Vita House, and there
I saw Matt interact with nearly everyone in the house. He never
wandered too far from his stereo, as he was the DJ, but he was truly
the life of the party.
The party made me think about my living situation. I had never felt
totally comfortable in the dorms, even considered leaving Goshen
College, and I longed to live in an environment that was positive
After evaluating the Vita House program I decided that I was ready
for the challenge of living there, even though it would require
much of my time and energy.
I learned that Vita House caregivers the term
for the resident college students are officially responsible
for respecting and actively facilitating the residents rights,
dignity and well-being. Since becoming a caregiver, however, Ive
found that living with Matt and fellow Mennonite Disabilities Committee
resident Steve Lang is a learning experience as well.
Becoming a caregiver does not require past work experience with
developmentally disabled persons, but it does mean having an open
mind, being willing to learn, having patience and showing love.
For some, choosing to live at Vita may take a leap of faith, but
that leap will have its fulfilling moments.
One of those moments for me was when an MDC resident told me, as
I picked him up from a workshop, Andrew, I like you.
In that moment, I understood that there was a meaning to life that
I was just beginning to learn. I realized I am in this world to
help others, love others not just to make decisions in my
life that benefit me.
Im grateful for the Vita House program, and to MDC and Goshen
College for providing it. At Vita House I am accepted for exactly
who I am my abilities and inabilities make no difference.
I will always have a home at Vita House. Ive grown much closer
to my housemates at Vita House in seven months time than I
ever thought I would. These housemates, my friends, I am proud to
call my family.
Andrew Gerber (So., Sellersville, Pa.) is a communication major