Posted by Jon Federman
“Sarah is happy as a clam. She got happy way sooner than anyone predicted. It was instant. Thanks for helping to make our girl so happy.” – Ellen McGill, mother of Sarah, a new resident of the JF&CS Yellow House
July 5 was a momentous occasion for a JF&CS client and her family. Sarah, a 43-year-old woman with Down syndrome, moved out of her parents’ house and into the JF&CS Yellow House, a collaborative residential living support program
for adults with disabilities, which allows clients to live independently and integrate successfully into the community. With seven private bedrooms plus large common areas and a kitchen for socializing, the Yellow House also had staff available every day, including overnight supervision by live-in JF&CS staff. Housing and services are funded by each resident’s social security benefits as well as MassHealth funding for some staffing. Each resident has a case manager and an agency nurse also visits regularly.
Sarah’s mom, Ellen, never imagined that Sarah would ever move out, but she eventually called JF&CS to learn more. “They gave me lots of information about the group home and I knew it would be perfect for Sarah. Once I visited a couple of the houses, I had no reservations. I saw that they know exactly what they’re doing and I’m completely confident they would know how to handle any issue,” says Ellen.
Since moving in, Sarah has flourished. Her only complaint is that she misses her cat, although she gets to visit when she returns home most weekends to see her family. “Of course she says ‘I miss my cat’ but nothing about missing her parents,” jokes Ellen. “I cannot say enough about how wonderful [her staff and supervisors] have been. They love her and support her,” she adds.
Colleen Bellew, program coordinator at the Yellow House, is enthusiastic about Sarah’s progress. “Sarah has had a very positive and smooth transition. She [tells] staff that she loves all of her housemates and misses them when she is at her parents’ house on the weekends. She thanks us every night after dinner and even said that we are great cooks! She has been fitting in wonderfully and is a great addition to the Yellow House,” she notes.
Associate Division Director of Homes and Family Support Doreen Cummings says she will “never forget” her first conversation with Ellen. “I convinced her to come see the program in Norwood, although Ellen’s first instinct was that it was too far from Sarah’s job and current life set up in Boston. We had lots of work to do and steps to take to make [it] a reality for Sarah. Together we were able to systematically check off each task to make this life-changing opportunity happen. After several visits, the client assessment, the MassHealth intake process, connection with the Norwood Housing Authority, the RIDE interview, dinners with the current residents, travel training from Norwood, and Sarah and her parents getting used to this huge life change we made it happen! Sarah is adjusting beautifully to this new, more social and independent lifestyle.”
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.