The King of the Castle
Everyone who enters the gates of St. Joseph’s Home will come across the reliable Stanley Adams or Uncle Stan as he’s affectionately known. With his trusty bunch of keys, he knows every nook and cranny of the Home and walks the corridors with pride. “I know all the corners of this place,” he says as we hurry through Pallotti House (former nurses’ training school). In the early 1960s, at the age of 6, Uncle Stan was referred to St. Joseph’s Home from Red Cross Children’s Hospital after extensive surgeries to his face and trachea area. When probed about the nature of his condition and how he came to call St. Joseph’s his home, Uncle Stan simply shrugged his shoulders with an “ag don’t worry about that” as a response. I got the message. And soon realized that he didn’t really like talking about himself much. His compassion and way of getting his point across was really all in his actions. He tossed the bunch of keys from one hand to the other and walked off speedily. I had to put a pep in my step to keep up with him. “I have lots to do, c’mon now,” he says with a lisp.
Over the years Uncle Stan went from being a patient at St. Joseph’s Home as a young boy to now being a full-time employee of over 40 years. He’s the go-to person for anything in and around the facility. And everyone agrees. “Nothing gets past Stanley,” says deputy matron Sr Hayley Carpenter. “I’m always amazed by how well he knows the place and that he knows just which keys fit which door. Honestly, I really don’t know how we’ll cope without him.”
Since being permanently employed by the Home at the age of 18, his daily routine is to be admired. “When my alarm goes off at 5 am and I go to the kitchen, the stove is already hot – a sign that Stan’s already had his breakfast and coffee,” says kitchen manager Cindy van Neel, who also lives on the premises. “He is up early to make sure all the gates and doors are open for those who start their shift at 7 am,” she says. “He goes around the grounds, maintains the gardens, makes sure the wards and admin blocks have what they need, plus the kids love him.”
His love and passion for the children of St. Joseph’s Home ring true in everything he does around the Home. “When I joined St. Joseph’s in the 1980s, my daughter was still young. And I was really unsure who was going to care for her,” says finance administrator, Glenda Jacobs. “I was told I could bring her along for a while until I got settled and she joined the other kids in ward B2 as it was known back then. Stan, who was in his 20s by then, assisted Staff Nurse Sarah West who was in charge of that ward and the kids enjoyed spending time with him. He just had so much energy and time for them and would show them how to garden – they’d follow him wherever he went. You’d just hear all the little voices calling Me’Tan, Me’Tan [Mister Stan].”
On his 60th birthday in 2018, Uncle Stan’s passion for young people was recognised when he received two awards (regional and national) from Scouts SA for his lifelong dedication and special services to the organisation. “Stanley is an excellent ambassador and truly embodies the values of the scouting movement,” said Western Cape Regional Commissioner, Paddy Milner, on the day. “What makes him even more exceptional in his service is the fact that despite his challenges he does the work of two people and never stops working from dawn to dusk, but remains cheerful and pleasant. He epitomizes the essence of what it means to be a scout.”
He’s not only the firm favourite among the kids, though. Matron Audrey Gourrah beams when talking about Stanley. “We really have a special relationship,” she says. “At the end of each year, I make a point of taking him on a little outing. He loves gadgets, so if I can, I’ll get him something special as well.”
No matter who spoke of Uncle Stan, they all had the same thing to say. “He’s the heart of St. Joseph’s Home, the jokester and the king of the castle.” And with every shake of that bunch of keys, there’s certainly no doubt about it.