Remarks by Deann Arneson, aka “Harry’s mama”!
“Anytime I get a chance to talk about, support, and encourage others to donate to Black Hills Works, I do. Never, ever underestimate the power you have to influence others, simply by sharing.
“Here’s an example of why I like to talk about Black Hills Works: My boss and his wife didn’t know anything about Black Hills Works until I shared with them about my son Harry and all the ways the organization supports him. Our casual conversation inspired Bill Chamberlain, owner of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home, to donate by sponsoring a table at the 2023 gala. Even more importantly, Bill has provided for Black Hills Works in his will! That is what can happen when you share your story with others.
“This year’s gala raised funds for accessible homes at Black Hills Works. Harry is a praying man. For almost two years, Harry has praying and waiting for a private apartment. Two years is a long time to wait. Just this week, a private apartment became available. Harry’s name was at the top of the list, and before the end of the month, Harry will be moving to his own space to be his own man! Thank you, Black Hills Works donors, for helping with housing!
“What does Black Hills Works mean to us?
“Harry was born with a blood alcohol level of .39%. During his time with us as a foster child, if I heard it once I heard it a hundred times, both audibly and silently: “Harry doesn’t stand a chance.” That’s the last thing you want to tell me. Do not tell me that something I am responsible for doesn’t stand a chance.
“It was easy to help Harry have ‘more than a chance’ when he was young and lived at home. At home, I was in control. But then Harry became an adult and it was time for him to transition out of high school and into adulthood.
“One option for Harry’s future was that he could live with me until I die (and I will die – I work in a funeral home, so I know these things!) and then someone else could transition him. I didn’t want that. Instead, I wanted to help Harry with the transition process to living independently and help the others involved. I wanted to help Harry learn to be less dependent on me and learn to trust others to help him.
“Harry wasn’t the least bit receptive about this plan. He liked living with his mama. But one thing I have consistently told Harry is even though we are done growing on the outside, God wants us to grow more on the inside. And this was one just one more way God wanted Harry to grow.
“We started our journey with Black Hills Special Services Co-op in Hot Springs. Our case manager, Cindy in the green Jeep, kept speaking of Black Hills Works and the opportunities it offered in Rapid City. I knew nothing about Black Hills Works. But we applied and we waited for housing – again, a two year wait. Two years is a long time to wait. Then, an apartment with a roommate came open. Harry was at the top of the list and to Black Hills Works we went.
“Even though I talk a big talk, moving Harry from Hot Springs to Rapid City was scary for me. But Harry knew it was what God wanted and in hindsight, I think maybe God was trying to grow Mama on the inside as well!
“And what blessings came with his move to Black Hills Works! I could talk all night about that but these are at the top of our list:
- More job opportunities for Harry
- Chances for Harry to fail and be rescued by someone other than Mama
- Getting to do things his brothers don’t
“What does Black Hills Works mean to me and Harry?
“To Harry, it means the world. Black Hills Works is his world, his life, his future, and a safe place to continue growing on the inside.
“To me, it means security and peace. Security and peace knowing Black Hills Works, thanks to donors like you, has all the supports and resources Harry needs to stand more than just a chance in this world. Not only today, with me here, but also into tomorrow’s future, when I am not here. And that means the world to me.”