Friday, August 16, 2013

The Big Move

One hurdle after another, he overcame.  Through every hoop, he jumped.  Through the grief of mom’s unexpected death, he moved.  Joey plowed ahead, keeping his eye on the target:  independent living in a Supports for Community Living (SCL) house on Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC). Every delay moving forward Joey addressed and conquered.  Joey persevered through it all, and the day he waited and worked for finally arrived.  His dream finally came true! Joey’s Independence Day happened on May 14, 2012!

Joey’s new address was the SCL house fondly known as “The Bachelor’s Pad” where his new housemates, Brandon and Roger, welcomed him.  Joey was so stoked he could hardly contain himself.  I go over to “The Pad” where Joey and his boxes of personal belongings had arrived.  The Direct Support Professionals (DSP) change shifts at 3 p.m. so Misty comes in to report for duty.  Joey greets her with his flirtatious coolness, “Hey girl, how ya doing, whassup!” Everyone laughs and Joey eats it up.  I ask how he is feeling about his big move, and Joey bursts in response, “Awesome!  I’ve waited for this for a long time. I’m super pumped up and excited. Me and Brandon are gonna be looking at all the girls!”  Brandon, who’s with us in the kitchen, chokes up laughing.
Joey, the girl-chasing twenty-something-year-old charmer and flirt that he is, practices his “pickup magic” on his DSP. “Misty, I love you with all my heart!”  Misty laughs as she goes about her business of the shift-change paperwork.  Joey, a rabid Adam Sandler fan, says, “I couldn’t be more happier than I am right now” and breaks out into singing Sandler’s “The Hanukah Song.”  Misty joins in with him and the two of them sing their hearts out as Brandon smiles in amusement.  Once the musical number is over, Joey tells me he had a lot of fear about not getting into SCL. He wanted it so bad and he did not want to mess it up.  We take a few photos of Joey in his new place, then with his new housemates on the front porch.  I leave him with Brandon to do whatever young twenty-something-year-old men do in bachelor pads. 

Fast forward to May 2013.  It has been over a year since Joey’s mom died, and he tells me, “I still miss her.”  He tried working but decided he did not like the job.  He made a few “horror” videos with the help of WFC’s Western Kentucky Assistive Technology Center staff, and has even done a little dating.  Joey enjoys more freedom to make his own choices, such as staying up late at night to watch movies or to participate in scheduled activities or not.  He still gets up early in the morning because other SCL residents get up and go to work, or to a day program, to volunteer, to run house errands, and/or ro social activities.  Joey doesn't like that he cannot stay at the house by himself all day when everyone else was gone, primarily because of safety and personal care concerns.  Efforts were made to give Joey this opportunity but with a DSP present, leaving this twenty-one-year-old feeling like he was “babysat.”  Despite these disappointments, Joey enjoys his freedom to roam the Campus visiting former Cottage C peeps and administrative staff.  He likes hanging out with his SCL friends, going out to eat, and shopping at Wal-Mart where, he adds with a twinkle in his eye, he likes to flirt with the girls.  Oh, he does get to sleep late on the weekends.
At a recent annual plan of care meeting this past June, Joey reiterated his desire to be more independent, wanting to stay home by himself whenever he wanted without DSP supervision. Recognizing how important it is to Joey to live life like that of other young men his age, SCL staff worked out a plan that provides him the opportunity to stay home whenever he wants.  To ensure he gets his personal needs met and for his safety, Joey agrees to check in with another on–site SCL DSP every thirty minutes, to let him or her know he is okay and/or if he needs anything. At this writing, Joey has never been happier since arriving to WFC.  He enjoys hanging out at the Bachelor’s Pad watching his movies, playing on the computer, and comes and goes whenever he pleases.  Joey never gave up on what he wanted, and accomplished his goal of feeling truly independent, on his own!

Many thanks to everyone at Wendell Foster’s Campus, and especially to Joey, for helping us share this inspirational story of perseverance.
In the Next Blog Entry: TBA

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