WCVB – Whole Meaningful Life program helps group residents dream big.

Did you catch a glimpse of our very own Claudia Andrade, AKA The Diva with her Champion, Chris Starnes, on WCVB’s “5 for good” program? This story is a testament to the impact of our new Meaningful Whole Life program here at The Edinburg Center. Watch the video clip or read the transcript below:


Transcript from WCVB
BEDFORD, Mass. —
At the Edinburg Center in Bedford, Chris Starnes helps client Claudia Andrade bead a necklace.

After a few minutes of work, it becomes obvious why Andrade goes by the nickname, Diva. She spontaneously breaks out into song.

“I always wanted to sing,” Andrade said. “I told my mom, and my mom used to sing to me when I was little.”

The Edinburg Center serves adults with disabilities. Lynn Bishop, the vice president of Developmental Disability Services, said the pandemic forced major shifts in programming.

She said that all-day programs, where people from different housing mixed, were shut down immediately.

“We didn’t really know enough about COVID yet,” she said. “And within a month, we sort of figured out we (needed) to keep people active. We (needed) to do stuff in the home.”

She said they were inspired to try a program they now call Whole Meaningful Life.

“It’s really about making sure that people we serve are valued and that they’re respected, and we have empathy,” Bishop said.

Edinburg clients were surveyed about their interests. Four staff members were hired to fill a new position that was created called the Champion. Starnes is one of the new hires.

“I was like, all right, I can make people’s dreams come true,” Starnes said. “I put all my effort and energy in my job and have fun doing it at the same time. It was a no-brainer for me.”

The Champions help residents work to fulfill their goals.

Andrade’s dream was to sing in front of a large audience. Starnes made a connection with the WooSox.

“They had this opportunity for Claudia to sing ‘Take me out to the ball game’ in the seventh inning in front of 5,000 people,” Starnes said.

Andrade said when the crowd broke out in applause after her song she felt “happy and calm.”

Bishop, who has been with Edinburg for more than 30 years said the Whole Meaningful Life program has reinvigorated everyone during the most challenging of times.

“We lost some people,” Bishop said. “It could have been just a horrible year, but because we came up with this idea of helping people reach their hopes and dreams, it really turned into kind of a hopeful year.”

See the article on WCVB here.