Amanda and a staff member working on a craft project

Amanda has been a part of Community Living for more than a decade. She attended the SOAR program through middle and high school and when it was time to make a plan for where she’d go after graduation, her transition team encouraged her family to tour Community Living’s Support Services for Adults program. She attended the Wilson Center for several years after high school and when participants began returning the program after the pandemic, she was transferred to the Jack Boschert Center.

Amanda’s parents Kim and Steve say they’ve seen a lot of changes in her mood since joining the SSA program. “We’re not just assuming that she’s happier,” said Kim. “She’s laughing and smiling more.” The family said Amanda is participating more and more and is engaged in the work the group does at the Center. She especially likes doing crafts with Craftibility Foundation and enjoys keeping the Center clean and tidy. She’s a big fan of the custodian who cleans the Boschert Center. “Evidently Amanda has befriended her because she has a really awesome vacuum,” Kim joked. Amanda also likes to go places. “She invites herself along for rides,” Steve said. Even if they’re just going to run a quick errand like getting gas, Amanda likes to jump in the van. “She likes the windows down in the van, listening to rock music,” said Kim.

Amanda’s participation in activities is one goal she’s been working on. She’s also been making big strides in improving her communication skills. She uses some sign language and a communication device and her parents said they’ve noticed that she’s not only responding to conversations, but she’s starting to initiate them, too. Lily, a Direct Support Professional at the Boschert Center, told the family that Amanda recently approached her and asked for a back scratch and to play Wheel of Fortune. “And they honor that, which is nice,” said Kim.

Kim and Steve think Amanda’s progress toward her goals is partially due to the great collaboration between the Center’s staff and Amanda’s therapists. Her speech and behavioral therapists meet her during the day at the Center and are great about leaving suggestions and instructions for the Center’s staff to continue to practice what they worked on in their sessions. “The staff has built relationships with her therapists which helps Amanda because it makes them a cohesive team,” Kim said.

“If we didn’t have Community Living at all and she had never attended the SOAR program, we probably wouldn’t have our daughter-in-law and two youngest grandkids.”

The family also recognizes that as an adult, Amanda needs a place for herself where she can have a break from being with her parents. “She deserves, as a young lady, a place to go without her mom and dad there all the time,” Kim said. They trust that she’s being cared for even when they’re not with her. “They kind of spoil her sometimes,” Steve said, to which Kim laughed “Kind of?” They said the staff goes out of their way to accommodate her dietary needs so she can still participate in food-related group activities. They’ve found her non-alcoholic, sugar-free margarita mix for Cinco de Mayo, sugar-free candy for Halloween, and special ice cream for summer celebrations.

Aside from fitting in at the JBC, Amanda has another special connection to Community Living. Amanda’s brother, who currently works as the manager of Community Living’s In-Home Respite program, was working nextdoor and came to check on his sister back when she was attending SOAR. That’s where he met his now wife who was working with Amanda at the time. Kim said “If we didn’t have Community Living at all and she had never attended the SOAR program, we probably wouldn’t have our daughter-in-law and two youngest grandkids.” She said their lives would also be drastically different today if they hadn’t found Community Living. Kim is a teacher and Steve also works full-time and both say it would be impossible to maintain their work schedules if Amanda didn’t have a place to go during the day. They said they don’t know what they would do without Community Living.