A Place Called Home

Joshua was born with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, the least common type of Cerebral Palsy, affecting only 5-10% of all people with palsy disorders. He had to overcome many limitations and challenges since birth. As a child, Joshua was unable to balance or stand on his own. He also had difficulties with speech, fine motor skills and coordination. He used a walker to walk until his junior year of high school. During his formal education, from elementary to high school, he transitioned from inclusion learning to full special education due to learning difficulties.

But one thing remained constant with Joshua….his strong determination to never, ever give up. Joshua had always sought to have what his peers considered ‘normal’ everyday experiences of growing up: which included working, taking care of himself and living independently. BUT HOW? While Joshua’s mom and dad wanted to see his dreams of living autonomously come true, they were also concerned about his safety, being alone, lack of support, his physical limitations and the reality that he still needed some help.

It wasn’t until Joshua’s mom and dad met with Bluestem Housing Partners, NFP that they learned of an opportunity that might work for Joshua and his unique needs. In all their years of knowing Joshua’s disability, they had never heard of affordable housing for individuals with a disability that included support services. The only other living situation that Joshua’s mom and dad had ever heard of for adults with developmental disabilities was a group home situation. But Joshua’s mom and dad did not think that a group home setting would fit well with Joshua’s ambitious and outgoing personality. Another concern for Joshua’s family was finances. Joshua received only a small monthly stipend in the form of an SSI check and a little income from some part time work. Would it be enough?

Jump ahead……..

After extensive talks with Bluestem, much prayer and consideration, Joshua and his mom and dad decided to give independent living a try, thinking that if it did not work out, Joshua could always come home. So trusting in God, and with help from mom and dad, Joshua moved into his very first apartment on June 20! In less than a year, it is amazing how far Joshua has come. Joshua is happy; he is loving his independence and freedom. He is taking responsibility and doing almost everything for himself, including laundry, cleaning his apartment, cooking, baking, changing bed linens. Joshua takes joy in getting to know the other residents. He participates in weekly movie night and the community/resident meetings. In the summer months, Joshua gardens and pulls weeds around the building. Day by day he is learning his new neighborhood by walking to local parks, shopping at local grocery stores and finding restaurants. And, the list goes on and on…..

Giving Joshua the opportunity to live independently and function on his own has enhanced his life tremendously. It has given him occasion to do things for himself that he never did living at home with mom and dad. And, it has helped him build new relationships with people. Joshua’s mom and dad are truly grateful for the individuals that have become Joshua’s neighbors and friends. All the residents in the apartment building where Joshua lives have become a community. They spend time with one another, shop together, cook for each other, eat together.

But Joshua’s mom and dad weren’t sure about the community aspect of independent living and if Joshua would fit in. Given his needs and the various needs of the other residents, how could they all come together as one community? Joshua’s mom and dad were able to witness first hand the positive impact the building’s community has had on Joshua. Joshua does not always fully grasp his own limitations but the other residents and the staff from Trinity Services Inc. really look out for him. It is comforting to know that there are others in the building that can give Joshua the support he needs.

The move to Finley Supportive Housing has been crucial to Joshua’s journey towards independence. Joshua’s mom and dad see in Joshua a young man that continues to grow, develop and gain more confidence in himself and his abilities. If not for this opportunity, they never would have known what Joshua was capable of and just how independent he can be!