Building Skills Together in the Community
Among the Mountain Brook Apartments in Poughkeepsie, there live five newly independent people receiving supports from NHR. They are building skills in many areas: budgeting of money for food, household necessities and eating out; learning transportation schedules; developing interpersonal skills to succeed in living with an roommate, etc. In addition to receiving supports from DSPs, these five are learning from and supporting each other by visiting each other; waiting together for a Poughkeepsie Loop Bus or ride; and simply staying in touch with each other with a phone call for advice.
Our first visit takes us to the apartment of Alison Heady and Alicia D’Eufemia. Alison is the navigator throughout all the interviews and seems to be the strong unflappable constant for all the group to find guidance when seeking aid in solving a problem or in need of advice. In both these ladies' home one can feel warmth and a welcoming atmosphere to sit on the big comfy couch to talk. Both ladies enjoy the freedom to go to bed when they like. Eat what they choose at any time of the day within their budget and diet. Both rely on each other to check cabinets for replenishing food or other products. They appreciate not relying on 24 hour staff to tell them what to do next.
Jocelyn Murray’s and Wendy Hawkins’ apartment is further back from the main entrance of the apartment complex. The focal point of the apartment is the homey inviting lure of the dinner table where one can chat and laugh about funny cooking mishaps and overcoming obstacles. Jocelyn loves sports like basketball and football. She's very proud of her skills using the microwave and making leftover food for her lunches the next day. Wendy loves to use the microwave as well and helps plan the grocery list with staff that comes in the evening. She is very different from Jocelyn. Jocelyn likes being alone and thinking about sports. Wendy does not prefer sports but is learning to compromise with Jocelyn so she may watch the football game on the large television in the living room on Sunday evenings. Wendy loved having a 24 hour staff before she lived on her own. It was quite an adjustment and she will call Allison for advice to help her make her decisions. Wendy is surprised that she is emerging into an independent person. She never thought she could make decisions on her own or enjoy not being told what to do next for each activity of her life. She is surprised how free she feels and is proud she is coming out of her shell.
Around the corner to the back of Jocelyn’s and Wendy's apartment lives the very determined industrious Todd Motter. He has taken to living on his own (with roommate Ryan) with full force and a new opportunity to fulfill his dreams. Whenever he can, watching out for safety rules, he glides through the streets on his red mountain bicycle to the convenience store or to K-Mart. He attends self advocacy meetings and helps conduct interviews with DSP applicants held at the West Road training and administrative center. Todd loves having the responsibility for and control of his own money and food shopping. While staying in touch with staff, Todd visits friends supported by NHR, the ARC of Dutchess and Abilities First. One obstacle he needed to learn to overcome was being aware of the different fares expected while taking the Loop Bus in Poughkeepsie to various destinations. Todd is so happy that family can visit often and the location is near meetings and his work. He has wanted to be on his own for a few years and this opportunity was one that did not come too soon for Todd.
These five young people (and several others who are also supported by NHR in apartments on Innis Avenue) have talented and dedicated DSPs to provide a support system to ensure their success in living independently.