As I sit here at my computer thinking back over thirty years of my life, I've had a lot of twists and turns, ups and downs. Where I want to start isn't at the very beginning – that is at birth when I had a stroke that caused Cerebral Palsy - but instead fast forward about twenty years or so. That's when I found myself at a huge crossroads. My maternal grandfather had just passed away at a ripe old age and my older sister Sarah moved to Asheville where she currently lives with her loving husband on a micro-farm with honey bees, quail, chickens, and two dogs. But getting back to my story, I wanted to “spread my wings”, so to speak. So, after exploring some possibilities, Sarah, who was now working for a group home company, had seen that they had DDA group homes in Greensboro. Don't ask me what DDA stands for, but I moved into my first group home. I was getting used to being independent, catching the city bus and going about my business with fewer restrictions as compared to living at home. One of the many things that I didn't like there was that the other ladies didn't want to do anything in the community or be social. Then, when a room opened up at another group home, I felt that God was saying, “Let's go see if you like this better.” So I moved. I still have a saying about how the two group homes were so vastly different: the first was loud on the outside and quiet on the inside, where as the second was loud on the inside, and quiet on the outside.” When I say that, I mean that everyone in the first group home stayed to themselves; there was no visiting in each other's room. However, at the second group home we freely hung out with each other. But as I grew to know and love these sweet ladies, I began to see policies that I didn't like. They put restrictions on our free time out on SCAT (paratransit bus) doing things that we needed to do or just wanted to do. I qualified to have four unsupervised hours a day in the community. Six hours of the day could be used to get to and from work. Eight hours could be used to be unsupervised in the house. Riding on SCAT, you could only go out in the community one time a day, because with the way SCAT sometimes goes, you can't be guaranteed that you'll get back before your time limit was up. Now understand I had the fewest restrictions of the ladies in the group home, but I realize now that group homes follow government rules. So soon I felt like I could be more independent. While I was at the group home, I got a part-time job at Spears YMCA. My parents knew that I was beginning to feel confined with where I was, because I had expressed it several times. I think I realized I could be more independent, and even Ginger (a friend who worked for The Arc) agreed and assured my parents. Then one day, my dad and I were talking about things, and he said, “What would you think about moving out of the group home and into a townhome of your own?” My face lit up and of course I said, “I would LOVE it!!” So then the work really began! When I first saw the townhome, I fell in love. I remember after the painters came in and painted, I came over and helped scrape paint chips off the floor. Plantation shutters were installed before I moved in for the privacy factor. Now I'm as independent as possible, though I still have to answer to my landlord (my Dad). But I have learned with more independence comes more self-responsibilities. It's an on-going, challenging journey, and I'm still on the road trucking.
InFocus Advocacy Consultant
"I HAVE LEARNED WITH MORE INDEPENDENCE
COMES MORE SELF-RESPONSIBILITIES."