I was first introduced to Bettye Barnes in 2006 when I escorted a friend of hers to a senior luncheon at Blackhawk Church. Her friend Ruth, lived with me in my first Adult Family Home in Middleton. Ruth was excited to have me talk with Bettye because Bettye often talked about creating a home where adults in need of care and supervision could live with a caring family. I was doing that in my home for frail seniors. At the time, my three daughters were in grade school, middle school and high school. And the seniors we cared for where part of our family of friends. Bettye was interested in doing this for adults with developmental disabilities. Bettye, her husband Bob, Ruth, and I enjoyed a conversation together and then I did not see them except in passing for many years after that.
In 2015 Betty’s daughter Becky came to see the beautiful Adult Family Home that I now live in and run as a charitable non-profit. This home is the first phase of Hope & A Future’s TIIN model (Therapeutic Interactive Intergenerational Neighborhood). She wanted to look at options for the future needs of her mother and brother. Her Mother’s health was failing and her brother had always lived with her Mother. In the not so distant future, Becky was concerned that both of them would need a home with care and supervision available. Becky and I had a fun conversation during the tour and I showed her an area that volunteers and donors where making happen above our new addition. It would include a live-in staff bedroom, a small sitting room, a bathroom and a guest room. Shortly after that visit, Becky asked me how much money was still needed to finish that area. She said that her family was interested in helping us finish that space. I sent the estimated costs that we had yet to raise and they sent a donation that allowed us to finish! We were so surprised and excited and remain thankful!
Toward the end of 2016, I had an available resident room. Before I had even looked at my waiting list, Becky called to say that their mother would not be able to return to their home and Becky and her siblings were frantic to find a place for her. She had heard through a friend that we had an available room and wondered if she could come look at it. During the visit, she also mentioned the need to decide where her brother would live. We brain stormed and I later called the state to see what could be done. They told me that if I had another available room, they would amend our license to care for people with advanced age and add persons with developmental disabilities. At the time, I did not have another available room. However, shortly after Bettye moved in with us, another resident, who was a hospice patient, suddenly moved to imminent end of life status. I informed Bettye’s family that it looked like we would soon have an available room. Becky told me that her mother’s response to this information was, “This is exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask or think!” After our much-loved resident’s death, Brad moved into the room across the hall from his mother! Brad likes to tell us that Becky called him up and said, “You won the prize! A room at Hope & A Future! Pack your Bags!” And pack he did. He showed up with Halloween costumes, his Christmas tree, bowling bag and a few clothes! He was ready! Brad, who is very social, soon began to refer to the home he and Betty had shared as, “the quiet house”. He very quickly came to love his new family of friends at Hope & A Future.
During the months that followed, we worked hard to help Bettye with her many difficult and challenging health care needs. We also worked on health issues that needed to be attended to for Brad and made sure to arrange for his continued involvement in Special Olympics bowling and bocce ball. Brad also joined in on activities, learning new ways to spend his time. Brad became a happy addition to our household and his Mother was thrilled to again experience his loving hugs. She also enjoyed watching him make new friends and try out new activities. Bettye’s other children, Becky, Bobbe and Brian Barnes worked with us and regularly expressed great thankfulness for the living arrangement and care we were able to provide for their Mother and brother. This remains our pleasure!
Becky, Bobbe and Brian all live in other states, so when they visit, they are now welcome to use our guest room. I once told Becky how nice I thought it was that, although they donated for the completion of that space before we ever knew that Bettye and Brad would become part of our household, I thought it was lovely that they could now use the space they had donated to. Becky looked at me in surprise and said, “You know, I forgot we donated to that! That’s right! We did, and now we are the ones being blessed!” I watched her surprise and remembrance and realized she had actually forgotten! In my opinion, that is the heart of living generously! Giving from a generous heart and forgetting what you have done! Lovely.
Bettye was a giver and encourager in every sense of the word. Her greatest joy was studying the Bible and encouraging others with what she learned from these studies. She continued teaching a weekly Bible study at Hope & A Future and her friends came every Thursday at 1:00 pm, as they had done for decades! The day she told us that she had taught her last Bible study, we had a knowing that her time on this earth was short. And it was.
Bettye passed away at Hope & A Future on December 28th, 2017. Yet her legacy lives on. Before she passed away, Bettye and her family made it clear that they wanted Brad to remain with us. We remain happy about this, he has become a beautiful part of our lives. As Bettye neared death, I said to her one evening, “Bettye, I hope you know we will continue to love and care for Brad when you are gone.” Bettye answered, “Of that I have no doubt. And he will care for you too. He is pure joy!” And my eyes leaked—even with this writing, I have wet eyes. To be able to provide that peace for Brad’s Mother and to live with Brad’s pure joy, is the beautiful stuff of life! In Bettye’s life, she desired to bless the mission of Hope & A Future and bless it she did! In prayer, encouragement and finances. Bettye and her family gave generously to the pre-development fund for the next phase of our TIIN model. Engineers and our architect are at work designing the next and biggest part of our Therapeutic, Interactive, Intergenerational Neighborhood—or TIIN. And she told her family to give Hope & A Future her accessible van when she passed! That transaction was finalized this last week-end!
All of the staff and some of our volunteers attended Bettye’s beautiful funeral service. Bettye lived a life of faith and leaves behind some of the loveliest children and grandchildren you will ever have opportunity to meet! They have been blessed by Bettye’s prayers and encouragement, and will continue to be—on into eternity. We are blessed to be part of the BB’s family of friends! Bob and Bettye Barnes are the parents of Brad, Becky, Bobbe and Brian Barnes! The BB family! We hope they know we all think of them as a blessing in our lives! And to Bettye, “Nothing but blue skies from now on!” A song she loved to sing with us!
Get new blog posts, events, and updates from Hope & A Future each month!
Written by members of the Hope & a Future community including residents, volunteers, and staff.