“Home Sweet Home.” We may say this after being away for a week, or there may be a picture of this quote in your home.
For Aimee, a resident of St. Peters, getting to say “home” takes on new meaning. Aimee lives in one of Community Living’s Residential Services supported living homes. The house is a split-level, where she lives on the first floor and her friend and roommate Kathleen lives on the lower level.
Their home underwent remodeling a few year ago to make the house more accessible for Aimee, who uses a wheelchair — from tearing down walls and the island in the kitchen to adding hardwood throughout the house and a walk-in shower in Aimee’s bathroom suite. Aimee was able to get to everywhere she needed on the upper level, but she was still unable to go downstairs.
And, over time Kathleen was having difficulty using the stairs. Every time she wanted to walk up or down the stairs she needed assistance.
In September of 2013, this all changed. Aimee saw the lower level of her home for the first time after taking her first ride in their elevator. “It was so much cooler downstairs,” Aimee said, referring to the temperature. The installation of the elevator was made possible by many generous contributors. The Home Builders Association of Greater St. Louis provided a $10,000 grant; Cuivre River Electric Community Trust provided a $3,500 grant; donations totaling over $7,000 from individuals who attended the 2013 Legacy Ball and the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board matching up to one third of the contributions raised.
The installation took several months. “Every week they were here bright and early,” Aimee, who likes to sleep in, said. “That was my wake up call.” But, now all that getting up early was worth it to Aimee. “My house is very accessible for me now,” Aimee said. “It feels more like a home.”
Once the installation was complete and the inspection passed, Kathleen took the first ride. “I was testing it out,” Kathleen said.
Farrah Schneider, Residential Development Coordinator, said Kathleen no longer needs assistance to go up and down. “Kathleen can do her own laundry now,” Farrah said. Before she would need assistance to walk up the stairs and for someone to hold her basket, but now she can take her laundry basket and herself up stairs using the elevator.
In addition, Aimee can knock on the house manager’s office door, which is located on the lower level, if she needs to speak to her. And, she knows where to go in case of severe weather. “I can now go downstairs and in the storage room area where there is plenty of room for all of us,” Aimee said.
Kathleen and Aimee can now see each other when it’s convenient for them. “I’ve showed her my Nintendo, my TV and we’ve played on the computer,” Kathleen said. “We can have our own party downstairs.”
When visitors come over they ask, “What is that?” “And I get to tell them we have an elevator in our home,” Aimee said with a smile. “It’s definitely changed my daily routine. I can do more in my home. I can see Kathleen when I want to and I don’t feel isolated anymore.”