Derek giving a "rock on" hand signal

Derek, or self-nicknamed “D-Rock,” has been attending the Marian Lonning Center in Community Living’s SSA program for over a year. “It’s awesome,” he says about the Center.

Derek and the other Lonning Center participants do a lot of volunteer work during the day. They pack welcome kits, recycle paper, and sort school supplies. One of Derek’s favorite volunteer duties is making homemade dog treats for Duo Dogs, a nonprofit that trains therapy and assistance dogs. Derek helps make the treats and gets to deliver them. One of the Center’s newest partnerships is with Kidsmart, an organization that provides free school supplies to students.

In addition to his volunteer work at the Center, Derek enjoys hanging out with his buddies. They like to take walks and visit the small garden behind the Lonning Center. They grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and more. While they walk, they like to play “Would You Rather” by posing questions to each other.

“He’s very observant and helps without being asked.”

Another one of Derek’s favorite activities at the Lonning Center is lunch. He’s a bit of a foodie. His mom generally makes him lunch to heat and eat throughout the week. “Pizza, pasta, spaghetti and meatballs, casserole, breakfast burritos, tacos…” he said are some of his favorites. He’s also really helpful to the staff when it comes to preparing lunch. “He’s very observant and helps without being asked,” said Mary, one the Lonning Center’s Support Coordinators. He helps by microwaving meals, unloading the dishwasher, and doing laundry.

When he’s not at the Lonning Center, Derek likes going bowling and eating out, especially at Chimi’s Fresh-Mex. He lives at home with his family and his dog Dixie. Derek is also into music. He plays the air guitar at home and at the Center regularly and likes attending concerts. He most recently saw Rob Zombie in concert. Derek is planning to celebrate his birthday in November and says “I’m a spring chicken!”