For 21 years, Joyce Ivins got paid to spend time with Christina McFarren.
As a Direct Support Professional for Bi-County Services, Ivins took Chris to the library, shopping and out to eat.
Though Ivins retired in 2021, the two women continue to spend time together -- only now they do so as friends.
“Chris still calls me everyday,” said Ivins, 76. “We’ve even gone out to eat a couple of times. She’s quite a gal.”
Health problems limit Ivins’ mobility, so she doesn’t get out much. McFarren’s phone calls brighten her day.
“She tells me about things that are going on with her family, or something that happened at work or at church,” Ivins said. “She knows my son, so she’ll ask about him. I guess we talk about things that normal people would talk about.”
Chris, who’s worked at Richard’s Restaurant in Bluffton for 37 years, credits Ivins with helping her improve her math and reading skills.
“When I graduated from high school I was only at a second-grade reading level,” she said. “Joyce helped me get that up to a fourth-grade reading level.”
Now she enjoys reading chapter books like Junie B. Jones. One day she’d love to be able to read the Harry Potter books, which her late mother used to read to her. She’d also like to learn more about dyslexia, so she can better understand what trips her up with math and reading and what she can do to get better at it.
These days Chris works on her reading skills with another Bi-County DSP, Wilma Penrod.
Meanwhile, when she visits with Ivins, Chris sometimes finds herself helping out her former helper. For instance, if they go shopping together at the Dollar Tree or Walgreens, “I’ll go in and get the cart and bring it out to her,” so it’s easier for her to walk, Chris said.
“It’s nice,” Ivins said of the daily check-ins and their periodic lunches out together. “We’re good friends.”