Together For Christmas

first_imgStella MacIsaac and Todd Goyetche belt out John Denver’s classic Take Me Home Country Roads from his 1971 breakout album Poems, Prayers and Promises. They sing the familiar melody in sync — country roads, take me home, to the place I belong. “I’ve got the words memorized now,” says Todd. “We sing it everywhere we go.” It’s an appropriate soundtrack for the reunited couple who have traveled a long road to be together. Today, their life is filled with music, poetry, faith and laughter. This Christmas marks the first anniversary of living in their Dartmouth duplex together. In 2014, they moved into their home just before Christmas, supported by Community Services’ Disabilities Support Program. The goal of the independent living program is to increase housing opportunities, with appropriate supports available, in the heart of the community. The couple first met more than 25 years ago when they were living at the Halifax County Rehabilitation Centre on Bisset Road, Cole Harbour. Todd has an acquired brain injury and for most of his life he’s been living in group residential settings. “I was always able to go and visit my mom a lot. But there’s lots of restrictions living in a group home, and I’m not too fond of those,” says Todd. Stella has struggled with mental illness. In 1988, she became sick and went into the hospital on October 19 — a significant date. “We said see you later then,” says Stella. “We did not say good-bye.” Still, over the years they lost track of one another. Many years later, Todd and Stella were both living in Dartmouth in separate group homes managed by the same service provider. Colonial Community Services oversees staffing and provides appropriate services. Their staff organized a field trip for residents to attend the Pumpkin People Festival.Stella was crossing the road in Kentville when she recognized a familiar face. “I asked ‘Are you Todd?’ and he looked at me and he said right away ‘Are you Stella?'” she laughs. The happy coincidence took place 25 years to the day that they’d separated. And speaking of dates, Todd proposed on Valentine’s Day in 2014. “We talked it over. We wanted to get married and move in with one another,” says Stella. “We love each other as we are and we love helping people.” The wedding was on September 27, 2014. During the ceremony, Stella sang Todd a song that she had written for him. “This was always their plan. They wanted to get married and to live together,” says Lisa Burton, Department of Community Services. “Everyone really wanted to support them and there were a lot of smiles going around when a solution came together.” “Colonial believed in us from the beginning. They had a really nice wedding reception for us,” says Stella. Like other newlyweds, they’re working on the details of living together. Stella is the one who likes cooking more, but she credits Todd for taking care of the laundry. Stella has seen a positive difference in Todd since they’ve been living independently. “He’s come a long way. He goes to work with the Salvation Army once a week at their food bank.” Todd is also a published poet who loves sonnets and the rhythm of iambic pentameter. He has written literally thousands of poems. Stella has found her voice in her music, writing original songs and volunteering. “I use music to help people with mental illness. People need to have a voice,” she says. -30-last_img

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