Sam's mother passed away just over a year ago. Shortly after she died, our rep payee applied for 'death benefits' as Sam's parents were now both deceased. After almost a year, Sam just received his first survivors’ check, a back payment from the last year. Sam traditionally has lived 'paycheck to paycheck', receiving hand me down items or gifts/donations. When the payment came through, Amber, Director at Center and a close friend of Sam’s, asked him what he wanted to do with the money. He smiled and said, "I want to see the characters". Sam was referring to Disney World. Sam and Amber looked up trips and found a Disney Land trip that was available in the spring. By the next day, he was registered and paid in full for his trip. When Amber told Sam about the trip being booked, he cried, stating that he 'never thought he'd get to go on a trip like that'.
Sam still had money left so Amber asked if he wanted anything else. He said he wanted a suit. Amber took Sam shopping for clothes, where he spent $500. Sam bought a suit jacket and several new dress pants, ties, vests, socks, and sweaters. In the past, Sam has not been able to afford more than an item or two at a time. This was a new experience for him and the sales associates were doting on his every need - which he loved! Over dinner that night, Sam said he had never spent so much money, that it "didn't feel real" and that he was glad his mom was able to "help him with this".
Judy, who has a severe intellectual disability, has lived with Mainstream for over 20 years. Prior to that she lived at the state hospital school for 35 years. Over the last several years staff have noticed that Judy's eyesight was getting worse. Unfortunately, at the same time, she was less outgoing, did not laugh and smile as much, and she began sleeping a lot more. During the past two years, staff advocated for her with her medical team and finally got them to agree to a referral to the University of Iowa Eye Clinic in Iowa City. There they determined that Judy would be a candidate for cataract surgery. She had surgery on January 20th but only on one eye. According to the surgeon, the other was too far gone to save. Since that day three weeks ago, Judy's personality has come alive again. She is staying awake, looking at staff when they talk to her and laughing. Recently, a staff member who has worked with her for two years, saw her smile for the first time.
Jason moved to Mainstream in March 2015 from Cedar Falls, IA. One of his dreams was getting a job or, at least, getting into a pre-vocational/day hab program. Together, for two years, we have assisted Jason with this dream and tried Link, Easter Seals, Goodwill, and Voc Rehab. Each time he was greeted with enthusiasm, only to be met with disappointment that, due to his physical and medical needs, he could not be accepted into these programs. Although he is still working with Vocational Rehab, the process has been long and uneventful. Jason has spastic CP and diabetes; he is insulin dependent and cannot administer his own insulin. That has been the number one barrier for his acceptance into any program--even day hab. He can be fed, assisted with hygiene and toileting, administered medications -everything except to check his blood sugar and to be given insulin.
Jason sees a counselor and expressed this as one of his main areas of frustration. His counselor encouraged him to get involved in self-advocacy. Recently Jason received an invitation to participate in an advocacy group with Community Support Advocates. The group met on 2/2/17 at the Capitol. Margaret, our Team Leader assisted Jason in writing his story and his message for the legislators. He was able to share his story with legislators that day. He is now planning to attend the "Advocating for Change Day" coming up. Although he still is not working, he feels empowered in sharing his message with others.