Co-author: Janette Hebert (Intern)
He has been described as a bright light by staff members. His smile is contagious. His free-spirited energy is evident when he enters the room. Yet, to observe him sitting in one spot for any length of time is a rare moment in the case of William Ross who works with the staff and residents of Gemeinschaft Home.
A former resident of the program, Ross is originally from the Chesapeake area of Virginia, and he came to Gemeinschaft Home in 2012.
Before joining the program at Gemeinschaft Home, Ross claims to have hit rock bottom, and he credits God for saving him from near death and leading him to Gemeinschaft Home, saying, “The only reason I’m here is because of God; without him I would not be here”.
After Ross completed the program, he felt as though God wanted him to stay at Gemeinschaft Home, a place that had changed his outlook on life, to help others--residents and staff, as well as people in the local community. His hope for others is to get to a place “where instead of hate you love; instead of lying you tell the truth; instead of seeing just the bad in people; you see the good.” Gemeinschaft Home has been the vehicle for Ross to help others in a way that he says “is meant to be.”
A typical day for Ross often involves a variety of activities, owing to the multiple roles he plays in the day-to-day operations of the organization, both as the resident advisor and facilities/maintenance manager. He is a “problem solver on demand,” as one staff member describes him. Whether he is urging, and often transporting, residents to participate in community-based support opportunities or attending to business matters on behalf of Gemeinschaft Home, Ross is an indispensable part of the team-based approach evident among the residents and staff of Gemeinschaft Home.
As a resident advisor, Ross has an open door policy and says that he is often needed as early as 6:30 in the morning or as late as midnight. Because he is a former resident, and well-aware of the struggles they face, Ross explains that many residents confide in him about personal issues as well as those within the house.
Due to the influx of needed advising for residents, Ross created a room designated as a calming and tranquil space for counseling and spiritual guidance.
Ross argues that he was given a second chance in life through his experience at Gemeinschaft Home. “I was grateful to have this opportunity,” he says, “I could die tomorrow and I would be happy. I got a chance to feel what I was supposed to. I always want people to know it is not about me; it is about everyone else.”
Ross’ philosophy is best told in his own words: “My life is real, my life is meaningful, my life is joy. This joy never goes away, even when I run into problems or something isn’t going right; I still make it through.”