Here at ILO, we are committed to helping individuals with developmental disabilities access and use the tools necessary to build full, integrated, community-based lives. Our board of directors and participating families, as guided by the experts Center for Independent Futures® name and M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC, have identified the key to achieving this goal: supporting our self-advocates with intentional communities, built by creating “community pods.”
Community pods are groups of self-advocates (as well as their family and personal support networks) that live in close proximity. As our self-advocates establish independent lives, the teams of paid and unpaid individuals, facilitated by ILO will support the self-advocates as they build relationships, establish themselves in their own homes, and take control of their own lives. These community pods, which are a part of larger intentional communities, help to ensure that self- advocates maintain their skills, develop new skills, and become fully integrated into their communities.
The intent of creating intentional communities through the use of community pods is to provide support and assistance to those who have moved out, or are close to making that transition. Parents and members of the self-advocates’ personal support network meet to discuss expectations, challenges, and dreams. The goal is to also bring together self-advocates, so they can build relationships with each other, develop friendships, and grow their personal support networks. It is important to note that building relationships takes time, patience and trust; ILO is committed to this process, and doing everything possible to facilitate the development of ILO intentional communities and community pods.
Center for Independent Futures® name and trademarks are used with permission.
Currently, ILO is working on growing community pods and helping self-advocates embrace the Full Life Model in two areas – Germantown/Gaithersburg, MD and Washington, D.C.
Germantown/Gaithersburg M.D.: ILO’s Germantown/Gaithersburg community pod is off to a great start, with one self-advocate achieving independent living in an area close to all the amenities, including transit center, bus routes, library, restaurants, grocery stores, movies, etc. Debbie Fickenscher, ILO Board Member and Germantown/Gaithersburg Community Committee Head is confident that this community pod will quickly grow, as three other self-advocates are working towards establishing homes in Maryland, and potentially in this Germantown/Gaithersburg area.
With this in mind, Ms. Fickenscher is hard at work facilitating connections and relationship building opportunities by organizing pod barbecues, group outings, and other social events that support the growing relationships between the participating families and the self-advocates. Ms. Fickenscher and the families support each other and the ILO process, sharing knowledge of resources as well as activities that may be of interest to the self-advocates and their families.
Washington, D.C.: Maedi Tanham Carney, ILO Founder, President and CEO, is head of the Community Pod Committee for Washington, D.C. This developing community pod also has one self-advocate that has already achieved independent living, with another two planning to live independently in early to mid-2016. As a part of her work towards facilitating community, Maedi has organized weekly Friday night cooking classes, where 6 self-advocates meet to socialize, create new skills, and work on improving existing skills.
As the founder, President and CEO of ILO, Maedi is committed to ensuring that these pods grow and evolve into wider, interconnected communities of self advocates and networks for support for all ILO Participating Family Members.
If you would like to learn more about these community pods, please contact us.