Meet Malachi Abuga and his two housemates, Robert Goodnow and Patrick Crimmin, who live in Leominster, MA. Malachi was an experienced DSP when he answered Aspire’s emergency call for a shared living provider, not once but twice. Brittney Mosher, their Shared Living Coordinator, remembers “We knew how motivated and dedicated Malachi is.”
Both at home and at work, Malachi is dedicated to helping others follow their passions and make meaningful connections in the community. He sees this as the heart of his role. Malachi observes that his success comes from the breadth of his experience in helping others and working through challenges at the staffed programs: “It strengthens you, makes you more creative, to see what others have done…That’s why my situation is working very well.” He also credits Positive Behavior Support training with teaching him how to create successful interactions and prevent problems from escalating.
Becoming a shared living provider has enabled Malachi to support his housemates on a deeper level, one that emerges from being together seven days a week. Both Robert and Patrick attribute their recent successes to the respect and support they receive from Malachi and the whole family.
Shared living benefits everyone in the home. It’s a busy household--Malachi and his wife Ruth have three children ranging in age from 1 to 15. “The kids are great,” notes Robert. Like most providers, Malachi can make a long term commitment to Patrick and Robert because of the financial stability this arrangement brings to his family.
Robert was the first to move in two years ago. He previously had his own in-law apartment in a provider home, similar to his current arrangement with Malachi. But Robert struggled with taking care of himself and his space as independently as his provider expected. Robert was also in danger of losing his job at the local supermarket because his attendance was inconsistent.
Malachi and Robert worked hard to find the right balance between support and autonomy. Robert now takes great pride in caring for himself and has become a dependable employee at work. Robert is doing an excellent job managing his finances and is saving to go to Florida. Malachi has encouraged him to make good decisions and to develop relationships. Robert is even serving on Aspire’s Human Rights Committee now.
Their newest household member, Patrick, arrived at a time of personal upheaval in the midst of the pandemic. His relationship with his previous provider wasn’t good, and things were going downhill fast. “He wasn’t really kind, so I moved out of there,” reports Patrick. Malachi brought respect, trust, and structure to their new routine, and Patrick is flourishing.
Another bonus for Patrick and Robert is the relationship that they are developing with each other. “Patrick is cool…I’m learning a lot from Patrick.” says Robert.
The guys regularly play cards together, especially Magic the Gathering, a longtime interest of Robert’s. Patrick is teaching Robert to draw. They love hanging out, hiking, watching wrestling, and going to the park together. Building their friendship has been an important experience for them both. Malachi is mindful of the different interests and needs of his two housemates and is careful to make time for both nurturing their friendship and their individual pursuits.
Patrick loves to draw: “I taught myself.” He’s created books with hundreds of colorful designs over the years. Patrick also has a strong interest in the outdoors. He built a backyard fire pit for everyone to enjoy. He volunteers at a shelter for rescued wild animals: “It’s an animal orphanage.” He helps care for some unusual creatures like bobcats, monkeys, kangaroos, and alligators. Malachi is hoping Patrick can turn his interests into a paid gig at the local botanical garden, and they’ve already begun conversations there.
Malachi supports Robert’s interests as well. Robert has a large and proud collection of action figures, models, and posters. Prior to COVID, buying and selling at the flea markets was one of his favorite ways to shop. Malachi has helped him learn to shop online during the pandemic to keep up his collection. Robert is also learning to cook with Malachi and Ruth, and most recently Robert tried his hand cooking lamb on the grill.
The household grows much of their own food organically in a garden in the back yard and at a farm-share plot in Lancaster. Patrick is excited about this new activity: “I love farming…We grow corn, all kinds of stuff, pumpkins, too.” The guys also grow tomatoes, carrots, and kale. Robert eats lots of vegetables and has lost 80 pounds in the past two years.
Malachi grew up in Kenya on his father’s vegetable farm, so he has a wealth of knowledge to share. Patrick works alongside Malachi in the garden and at the farm, helping with all aspects of planting, care, and harvesting. They’ve built a backyard greenhouse together and have already started many of the plants for this year. Once their crops are ready, they’ll keep them for year-round eating in the home’s three freezers.
Together, Malachi, Patrick, and Robert are building a great life for each of them.