10 January

Dinnertime, The Mansion Refugees Away From Home

by Jon Katz

Red and I joined some of the Mansion Refugees for dinner Thursday – Maria was at her Belly Dancing Class in Vermont. We talked about the water leakage at the Mansion, and the residents at the table talked about their urgent wish to get “home.” They love to hear about our farm, the dogs, donkeys and sheep.

The Danforth Adult Center takes good care of its residents, but I kept thinking of the Mansion: the paintings we got on the walls, the eight different kinds of new tablecloths so their meals will be less monotonous, the special Round House Cafe pizza lunches and next week, the Homecoming Celebration next week with music and Chinese food, the boxes of sugar-free cookies.

Several of the residents were back in their rooms, resting or sleeping.

I thought of the beautiful Great Room and its sofas and chairs, the beautiful old house, Summer the cat we helped heal, the twin chirping parakeets, and of the indefatigable Julie Harlin, who fills their days at the Mansion with guests and art and readings and crafts and exercise and talking. I think of the stacks of CD movies we got for them, and the bins filled with art supplies from clay to Batik.

I think of the Mansion aides and staff, from Kassi on down to Katie and Kelly and Morgan and Tia and Brittany and the others, there is a deep love and caring. They are loving, and attentive, and fun. Yes, fun is allowed at the Mansion.

I think of how they are suffering this week, they want “our residents” so they can take care of them.

“I miss my residents,” Dorlisa told me yesterday, tears streaming down her cheeks. Every place is not like the Mansion. There are not always things on the wall, activities all day, a hundred things to go. I hope the state gets off its bureaucratic but and lets everyone back in. It is their home, not just a place to sleep.

The Mansion is a very special place, and we didn’t create that, but we helped it along. That’s what I was thinking as I sat down with dinner with the Mansion Refugee Residents, as I now call them.


  1. Jon, if each person could take some small and loving actions such as these, the news would be full of stories of love and hope, kindness and caring. I read your news, because yours fills me with hope and inspires me to take these actions. Thank you.

  2. Jon, do you think that maybe the federal government shutdown has affected the work of those state inspectors? Maybe they’re having to double up on their work and that of the federal employees. This shutdown is having a wider and wider ranging effect on people. Just a thought. I am so distressed about the Mansion Refugees. So sad.

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