Posted by Sara Freedman

JF&CS ResidenceWhen Michael first moved out of his parents' home and into a JF&CS residence with other adults with disabilities in June, it was bittersweet for his mother, Beth. We shared a poem she wrote about the transition. Over the past several months, Michael has been thriving in his new home. His parents are amazed at his growth and the independence he's demonstrating and their worries have been eased. Michael's mother shares his achievements in an email she sent to Michael's JF&CS staff team:

I am writing this email as a very happy and PROUD mother:

Way back when the residents for Cedar House were being selected, my husband and I had the "phone-in" meeting with Doreen and all of you at JF&CS about whether Michael was ready to move away from home. At one point, there was a question about whether Michael would be able to be on his own in the house during the day if need be.

Well, today he came through with FLYING colors!

There was an issue with booking Michael's Ride today, so I called him on his cell at 5:45 this morning. He was up and getting ready for his day. I said, "Well, I can't get them to book your trips today in the timeframe you need, so you get a 'day off' today!" He said, "Okay. I'm really sleepy---I'm going back to bed!"

He called me around 3:30: "Hi Mom, it's me, Michael." I asked him what he'd been up to all day.

"I fell back asleep and got up at 8:00 and made myself some oatmeal and toast for breakfast, with a bowl of fruit. Then I went to the Malden Y and used the equipment for an hour. I did 150 sit-ups! Then I came home and had my lunch out on the porch."

I asked him if any of the other guys were around: "No, I had the house all to myself!"

Then he went for a hike around Malden and Medford (I swear, the guy has a wee GPS in his head . . . but then again, for the last many months, my husband has made a point to walk around Malden and its environs with Michael to "set" his GPS!)

"I am back in Malden at the ice cream place on Sentry Street. I didn't have any dessert today." (Hint-Hint!)

I asked him if he had money on him. "Yes, I have $10.00 . . . that's enough to buy myself some ice cream and a water, isn't it? It's very warm today, I think I need some water, too."

And so I said that yes, that would cover a small dish of ice cream and a bottle of water. And I told him how proud I was of him for being so independent and flexible about his day not going as planned.

"Okay, I'm going to go get my 'treat' now. I just wanted to call you to tell you what I was doing today. I love you. Okay, I'll talk to you later. Goodbye."

ACH! I hung up with happy tears in my eyes. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he would be at this point after only what? Barely 10 weeks in the house?!

Anyway, I know I have rambled on at you all, but I also know that you all care about Michael and want him to do well at Cedar House. And he is doing well and now we know he can look after himself on such short notice!

Sara Freedman joined the Services for People with Disabilities and Mental Illness team in 2006 as an intern in the CHAI Works day program. She has held a variety of roles within the department and is currently the Director of Community Programs, overseeing residential and family support programs. She has a degree in human development and psychological services as well as psychology from Northwestern University and is currently pursuing her MSW at Boston College. Sara enjoys hiking, baking, travelling, and spending time with her friends, family, and dog!