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Reach Like A Giraffe

Emmalee Rose Macatrao age eleven is the youngest granddaughter of Hillsgrove Clubhouse Advisory Board member David Thatcher and the youngest of three granddaughters to David and his wife Roseann.  From an early age, Emmalee was especially close to our eldest son David Jr. who as a teenager was diagnosed as being bipolar which later in life progressed to schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.  Later in his life, David when able to, attended the Hillsgrove Clubhouse in Warwick where he assisted in the kitchen and made many new friends. Emmalee is what we call an “old soul” as she presents herself as someone much more mature for her age and has an innate ability of compassion especially when around those who like her Uncle David battled with the unique challenges associated with mental health issues.

David's Story

It was a warm and sunny day on Monday, June 12, 2017 which unknown to anyone but God above would be David’s last day of life. David’s condition was worsening and doctors in a desperate attempt to stabilize his symptoms placed him on a “Black Flag” medicine to help stabilize his condition. This medicine has some serious side effects and his doctor at the Kent Center was adamant to wean him off of it asap. Emmalee along with her mom Amy, my wife Roseann and David lounged in our swimming pool until noontime when they retreated into our home for lunch. David or D.J. Dave as family like to call him sat on the living room couch and was soon joined by our dog Brutus who placed his head on David’s lap and the two were soon fast asleep. Later that evening David Jr. collapsed on our kitchen floor having suffered from what we later learned was a major heart attack.


This event shook our family to the core and challenged our faith as for a parent it is one of the most horrific things in life to lose a child especially when every day of life you promised them that things would get better and you would do everything within your power to get them the right help in order to live a healthy and meaningful life. Our granddaughter Emmalee was especially moved by this tragic loss as it was her first encounter with losing a close family member. Something unfortunately, she would experience again several years later when losing both of her paternal grandparents withing two weeks of each other.


From an early age, Emmalee Rose loved all things arts and crafts spending countless hours at her home in Cumberland, RI and ours during sleep-overs cutting fabric patterns and paper along with drawing and coloring everything from rocks to blank easels, coloring books and everything that her creative brushes touched. And just like many young artists she was much better at the creative part than the cleanup (lol).  As grandparents, we would always remind Emmalee to sign and date her artwork, which at first she frowned upon thinking it was a form of conceit until we convinced her that it was to help her down the road to look back and know when she did each piece.  



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One of Emmalee’s most recent works was a hand drawn picture of a giraffe which she proceeded to color.  We were all very impressed with this latest creation and having some informal discussion, there was some talk about sharing this picture with the staff and clients at the Hillsgrove Clubhouse as they might be interested in using it to help individuals like her late Uncle David to reach their full potential despite their medical challenges.  Emmalee was a little shy at first and later “all in” as she agreed that this was definitely a great idea especially after she recalled her Nana and Papa attending a craft show several years back in Mystic, CT. where they purchased an art piece from a tent sponsored by a local group home for clients with mental disabilities. The piece was a hand drawn tiger in pencil which the young artist stated took him only 40 minutes.  We were so impressed we bought it and the artist was so excited as it was his first work to sell. This portrait like Emmalee’s is a prime example of someone having both potential and a purpose for their talent.   

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