Chris was less than a year old when he was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome. His mom, Sue, was a lifelong educator. “I knew what we were facing,” she said. When she sat down at his first IEP meeting, she remembers being asked what she envisioned for Chris’ future. She said, “I just want him to have a purpose.”

When he hit his teenage years, his caseworker asked his mom what Chris’ plans were after high school. She knew Chris wouldn’t be entering the workforce after graduation, so they’d need to find something for him to do during the day. When he turned 18, they started visiting different program options. She said her top priority was finding “somewhere Chris would be accepted and have friends.”

When they toured Community Living’s Mahon Center, she remembers it feeling warm and welcoming. “I felt comfortable the minute I walked in here.” It also checked another important item off her list. “I was principal of an elementary school and I had to work basically from 7 in the morning until 5 at night,” she said. “This place offered Before and After Care and that was a necessity for me and Chris.”

“I felt comfortable the minute I walked in here.”

Once Chris started attending the Mahon Center, she realized it was not only a fit for Chris, but it was also a fit for her. During activity days, she’s been able to meet other parents with similar experiences. “In fact, I’ve become really close friends with one of the other moms,” she said. “It really makes you feel like you’re not alone out there. Everybody that’s here feels the same way and it’s nice because you can feel kind of isolated as a parent of a special needs kid. Your typical parents don’t understand.”

She said she’s gotten to know the staff really well over the years, as has Chris. “He talks about Kelly all the time. He’s built such a great relationship with her.” Kelly is a Direct Support Professional at the Mahon Center. She and the other staff members work with Chris to complete various volunteer jobs and fun activities. Chris loves to ride in the van and help do the Center’s shopping. He also volunteers to pick up trash at a local office building nearby. His mom says the work he does at the Mahon Center makes him happy and makes him feel productive, which makes her happy, too. “Chris at home is very edgy and bored. The Mahon Center gives him a purpose to his life.”

Chris also participates in Community Living’s Adult Recreation program and lives in the community with support from Community Living. Sue said, “This is one of the best things that’s ever happened for my family and for my son.”