The Real Meaning of Christmas

Rico Flores

Here’s a lift for your Christmas season, a story about a young man I recently met.

Christmas took on new meaning last year for Rico Flores. For the first time since he was a young child, Rico enjoyed the type of Christmas you’d wish for everyone—a celebration with food and fun, surrounded by people who care.

He was home.

Rico first met Charlene Ellison at a group home, where she previously worked for a different organization. When the opportunity became available for her to become his Mosaic at Home provider last December, she jumped at the chance. So did Rico. He didn’t have a lot of stability in his early life. His mother abused drugs and moved her children around quite a bit. By age 7, when he was taken away from her, Rico had already lived in four states that he could remember.

Because of his disability, Rico spent the next 22 years in an institution and in group homes. Through these years, he lost contact with family. Like many others in similar situations, Rico developed self-protection habits that were not good for him. He learned to hoard food, steal and lie.

“A big problem I learned how to break was stealing,” Rico said proudly. “I didn’t want my life to be in the slammer!”

With Charlene’s patient help, Rico has learned that those self-protection mechanisms are no longer necessary. Instead, he has learned new, healthier ways of thinking and acting. Rico has lost more than 30 pounds through healthy eating and exercise. He’s gained self-confidence. He’s learned to help with many outdoor jobs around the acreage, helping Charlene’s husband, Tom, with chores. Rico even has a spot of his own in Tom’s workshop and has helped tinker with gadgets and fix things.

Rico has a meaningful life.

He will soon be celebrating his second Christmas with Charlene and Tom, their children and grandchildren—his new family. While he will never be able to live fully on his own, his ever-growing independence makes his life better than he has ever known. That’s the life of possibilities Mosaic promises.

Merry Christmas!

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