ILO Success Stories
There are now many ILO self-advocates living on their own, out in the community. Here are a few of their stories.
The Crossings : ILO Builds a Community
In November of 2016, four ILO participating families and their self-advocates (young adults with developmental disability) successfully established an inclusive, integrated, supported community in a new apartment complex, The Crossings at Old Towne Gaithersburg.
As members of ILO, these self advocates and their family members were provided with the training and organizational infrastructure that helped them create their community from the ground up. With the backing of ILO’s Board and the commitment of the four families, by the time the building was ready to open, the Gaithersburg pod had developed a community and hired a community builder.
Each self-advocate has the personal supports he needs. Supports combine unpaid and paid help. Some self-advocates have government funding, others do not. All four use resources available in the wider community.
Moving Robert into The Crossings: A Participating Parent’s Perspective
We are extremely excited that all 4 ILO self-advocates moved into Crossings At Olde Towne Gaithersburg in November, 2016. Our son, Robert, was the first to move in to the Crossings on November 2. The move in was the culmination of many months of work, beginning in February of 2016. Robert’s move in was very hectic but wonderful all at the same time. After multiple delays in construction and changed move-in dates, we finally began our move-in day at 8:30 am when Robert and Marc, his Dad, got to the Crossings and unloaded boxes and suit cases into one of the carts provided by the Crossings. Bargain Movers ably and swiftly moved all his furniture to his apartment.
With the exception of a bit of confusion when we all reached the Crossings loading dock (and the restriction of one elevator because half of the building was still under construction), the move went very well. Movers were completed before 10 am, and we were soon unpacking at Robert’s new apartment.
By noonish we were ready to break and walk over the Bridge (in back of the parking garage connected to the Crossings), enjoy the view of Olde Towne Gaithersburg, and head to lunch.
Across the bridge, we headed to our favorite restaurant, Growlers. We treated Robert and our community builder Sherita, ILO’s first employee, to lunch. It was well deserved, after an early morning and lots of work by family, Sherita, and especially Robert.
Since Robert moved in on November 2, 3 additional self-advocates, Matt, Shaun and Andrew, soon followed. All four self advocates will continue to work with Sherita and all the families to settle in, and have many more successes both individually and together.
The ILO Gaithersburg community is the start of many supported communities in Washington, DC and Montgomery County, MD.
Elaine on Her Own: A Self-Advocate Makes the Big Step
The following is the story of Elaine, an ILO self-advocate, and the process that was undertaken to move her into her own home.
Elaine Fickenscher was the first ILO self-advocate to move into her own place in the community. Elaine lives in Germantown, Maryland, and both Elaine and her mother are active participants in ILO.
An introductory session with Center for Independent Futures in Bethesda, MD inspired Debbie to attend the New Futures Initiative™ training in Evanston, Illinois. She knew that finding a place for Elaine to live would involve more than bricks and mortar, and the training helped clarify the importance of building networks of support and partnerships within the community.
Debbie joined other participating families as they looked for rental units in Montgomery County, MD. Qualifying for the rent was challenging and so Debbie decided to look for a unit to purchase. Qualifying to purchase a unit wasn’t easy either as traditional lenders were reluctant to finance a loan for a unit so close to the family home. A financial advisor set her on the right track when he told her about the Fannie Mae provision, which would allow her to borrow money to purchase a unit for a disabled dependent as a home, not an investment. (see link below).
A two-bedroom condominium close to the center of Germantown and less than a mile from the family home was selected. The next step was to find a non-disabled roommate to be an overnight presence. Debbie offered a reduction in the already attractive rent to an individual if the roommate was willing to be in the unit by 10 p.m. and ensure that Elaine got off to work on time in the morning. The ad attracted several women. Elaine picked a young woman close to her age who worked in Germantown. Even though this individual knew very little about disabilities, she was willing to try and soon discovered that she and Elaine were more alike than different.
Elaine is now in her fourth year in her place and she is thriving. Her first roommate moved, but another young woman now is in the second bedroom. Sometimes the roommates do things together, but of the two, Elaine has more social activities. Elaine’s network of support includes paid and unpaid individuals. She enjoys her independence and only spends the night in the family home on Christmas Eve or when a trip involves an early the morning.
As part of her active life, Elaine has several jobs, including paid employment as a “grower” at Red Wiggler Community Farm and other volunteer positions.
Note: If you are interested in more information on the Fannie Mae provision, please contact us, or follow this link. Glen Lazovick from APEX Mortgage on Tower Oaks BLVD is the financial advisor that originally directed Debbie to Fannie Mae and a Board Member of ILO.