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Clouds of Hearts

“Clouds of wonder and light in the sky so full of stars, and the moonlight so bright.

The moon of wonder and faith, of dreams tonight

Wings of harmony in the night of sorrow of the moonlight.

In your heart of someone of a sweetheart, in the shadows of the moonlight.

In your sleep dreams of light and wonder.”

By Kelly N.

Kelly represented the State of Louisiana on the U.S. International Special Olympics Equestrian team.

That dreamy poem was written by this week’s “Chapel Haven Changes Lives” feature story, Kelly N., who was happy to talk about how Chapel Haven has changed her life.

Kelly, 41, is a native of Florida who came to Chapel Haven with her biggest passions in tow – writing poetry and horseback riding. In both areas, Kelly has done well.

Kelly was an avid rider who started horseback riding lessons as a child and continued until she attended Chapel Haven at age 23. She competed in Special Olympics’ equestrian programs, winning two medals, for excellent trail riding and superb equestrian skills. When her family moved to Louisiana, she continued pursuing her passion,  and was selected as a member of the United States International Special Olympics Equestrian team. She represented the State of Louisiana.

Her mother, Patti, remembers that Kelly enjoyed being a part of this international event. “She took bags and bags of Mardi Gras beads to the World Games and during the Parade of Nations, they tossed them. She also gave them to bus drivers, counselors, everybody and anybody.”

She continued to horseback ride throughout her life, even when moving from place to place. During this time, her mom and dad found Chapel Haven online and introduced her to it.

“I had nothing going for me, I didn’t have any friends, so I was excited,” she says. She enrolled in Chapel Haven’s REACH program in 2008 and participated in lots of opportunities, including her favorite class – horseback riding.

Kelly loves writing poetry.

Kelly shares that she was extremely shy but after some time she began to open up.  She learned a lot about how to cook, do laundry and manage public transportation. She had never taken the bus before she came to Chapel Haven. Now, she is a pro. “Mom would have to drive me everywhere and now I go on my own,” she says.

Today she works at CVS in Hamden, a job she has had for many years. She also volunteers at the Milford animal shelter, where “My favorite part is petting the animals.” She also cleans the kennels, walks the dogs, dispenses treats, and more.

Kelly’s other big passion is poetry – she has been penning her own original works since high school.  She explains she wasn’t very good at first, but her teacher thought her word usage was clever and she won high marks. She enjoys writing poems because she can express herself with words and it gives her something to do. “I just do it because I like it.” She has dreams of publishing her own book of poetry one day.

Kelly lives independently with a roommate off campus. Along with working, she enjoys the weekend recreation activities, including going to Six Flags and mall shopping – she loves shopping for clothes and candles. But her favorite activity is going to the New Haven Green to walk around and window-shop.

“Chapel Haven has helped me because I can do stuff on my own,” she says simply. Her advice to new students is sage: “You can learn a lot of stuff and you can go anywhere… except the moon.”

Thank you for sharing your story, Kelly! Keep on writing!