REM Award Honorees (2002) — Dan DesRosiers (REM)

Sometimes when people have tough experiences—like growing up in an orphanage where there were few gentle words and no caring good night hugs—the human spirit withers and bitterness rules. But in some people, despite real adversity, the human spirit thrives. Such a person is Dan DesRosiers.

Dan grew up in that orphanage and life was tough. But real adversity came many years later, beginning with the day he found out his two-year-old son had cancer. The family fought together for nine years, through seven different cancers. At the age of 11, Isaiah died.

REM and Dan met one year later. At first Dan joined the Team Builders Team and worked to find ways to build strong teams for dealing with the full diversity of community. Having worked for years with youth ministry in the Catholic Church, he had much to offer and led the community through a planning process for renovations of the community center. He also joined REM’s Board.

In discussions with REM’s dream catcher, Faye Nicholson, Dan shared his frustration with his inability to bring closure to his mourning. In his work, which involved heavy labor, he found that he didn’t have the time to work things out, to focus on his issues. He felt he needed to be with people, to have think time, to do something worthy and creative for the community . . . to give.

Giving has always been Dan’s thing. In the hospital, many children’s parents did not stay with them. Dan became everyone’s papa. He raised money to buy the children remote control cars that they raced from their wheelchairs, eyes aglow as if they were actually in those cars. His work in youth ministry took him all over the state. He found himself collecting things because someone, someday, might need them. Dan is always giving something away.

Dream catching with Faye, Dan shared that his family had a tradition of being cooks. Dan and his wife Ginger had themselves run a bed and breakfast on the coast. So Dan offered to manage Dreamers’ Café, REM’s food service project in The Center. In fact, he literally saved the project. Many area employees and visitors to The Center had the privilege of becoming Dan’s friend.

Dan DesRosiers is an amazing human being. All of us at REM feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with him and share the joy of community service.

Dan retired from Dreamers’ Café on September 27 of this year. He thanked REM for the opportunity to heal, to make new friends, and to learn new things. While in Dreamers’, he raised hundreds of dollars for the Make A Wish Foundation in his son’s honor. Dan’s family — his wonderful wife and partner Ginger, his daughters Carissa and Liana and his son Joshua — are the lights of his life. All of REM celebrates Dan’s good fortune. Few men have ever deserved it more.

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