Independence is hard work, and it isn’t built alone. It takes experience, opportunity, and support to strike out on our own. The relationships we form and the systems that surround us contribute to how far and how fast we can go.
David knows this first hand.
David shares a home with two Aspire providers, Spring and her husband, where he’s lived for the past nine years. David’s goal is to live on his own so he’s learning the budgeting skills that he’ll need to achieve this.
Employment is a key part of the plan. David loves his current position at Walmart. He started out in the bottle redemption center and moved on to gathering carts and loading vehicles. Being active and outside is a passion for him. He enjoys his co-workers, too: “I take my breaks with people and chit chat.” When others call out, David willingly takes on shifts. He’s only taken a couple of sick days in the past five years. “They know I’ll be there.”
David is popular at work--customers ask for him by name when they need help. He has a good relationship with his team leader, and he is confident that there are more opportunities at Walmart: “The company will let me go as far as I want.”
It’s a great job for him, one he planned for using his network of supporters. He knew someone in the HR office through Special Olympics, and she gave him a great recommendation. His girlfriend already worked there and told him what it was like. He has a job coach from The ARC of Eastern Connecticut who helped him get started and now assists him with required computer-based learning.
Spring and her husband support his budding career too. They provide transportation for his commute, although sometimes he rides his bike in nice weather. They helped him pick out the specialized clothing he needs to stay comfortable through rain, snow, and cold (“Like the mailman!” says Spring). They all went out for dinner to celebrate his accomplishment when he got his 5-year pin and certificate.
Working means David has the freedom to do the things he really enjoys, and as he says, “I can buy my own things when I need them.”
David is an avid traveler. He’s been to SeaWorld and baseball’s spring training in Florida with a group called Trips R Us. He is saving for a cruise to Bermuda with his girlfriend. Budgeting for the things he loves has been a great motivation to learn how to manage his finances.
Sports are also an important part of David’s social life. He buys season tickets every year to the Providence Bruins, an AHL professional hockey team. David, his girlfriend, and the providers take a road trip to Providence almost every week during the season. David and his girlfriend have even been on the “kiss-cam,” a couple times. David signed on with a full-tackle football league recently, and he still finds time for running 5k’s, soccer, bocce, and bowling.
After almost ten years, Spring and her husband see David as part of the family. “It’s been a wonderful experience, and he’s kept us so young.” He doesn’t always need support now—he’s spending time on his own. They know that David is preparing to leave their shared home, and they are cheering him on. David’s vision of where he is heading is clear: independence.