Fall Issue #49 Newsletter Cover Story

In this day of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, there’s a more basic kind of communication going on at St. Ann Center. Stein Campus volunteer Maggie Cary and adult day care client Dragana Tomac have developed a language all their own.

“I’ve come to understand her moods and what she’s trying to say from her expressions and sounds she makes,” Maggie explained how a smile, a coo or a knitted brow tell her if Dragana is happy, anxious or sad. “After 11 years together, we understand each other.”

Dragana was born with cerebral palsy, blindness, seizure disorder and cognitive disabilities. At 37, she’s developmentally 18 months old. According to her mother, Ruth, “We toured several places looking for help with Dragana’s care. St. Ann Center is so beautiful and welcoming, we were certain she would do well here.

”Maggie got to know Dragana when she began spoon-feeding her at lunchtime. Soon, they were inseparable. “We go all over the building—inside and out,” Maggie said of how she takes Dragana, in her wheelchair, around the building as she runs errands. “It’s stimulating for her and good exercise for me.” Dragana has also made fast friends with other St. Ann Center clients. “She lights up when she hears her buddy Erica’s voice,” Maggie added.

Quiet as Dragona is, she loves being the center of attention, mom Ruth said. “She feels pampered when she gets her baths at St. Ann Center. And she thrives on the one-to-one communication she has with Maggie.” According to Maggie, the pleasure is hers. “Dragana brings out the best in everyone,” she said. “It’s pure love.”

Because of you, Dragana spends her days with people who value and respect her.

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