We wished to send this letter to document the success story about our daughter Jessie. The Arc provided guidance and support to enable her to live a totally independent life, both from the skills she learned and the skills we as parents learned, both of which were equally important.
Jessie’s childhood was dominated by a seizure condition that was uncontrolled for many years. She had up to 10 hours a day of seizure time (with multiple types of seizures), and no medication that worked to control them. This continued until she was 14 when a breakthrough occured and the seizures became controlled.
She had no memory of her childhood, and was literally beginning all over again at that time. She had a few basic skills such as feeding herself and some minimal dressing abilities.
At about 16, we found The Arc, and she began receiving Community Connections 1:1 services to take her out into the community. She had very limited social skills, and had not been able to enjoy community involvement for most of her life. The Arc enabled us to see ways in which we could foster independence, and we watched her grow and develop in ways we did not expect.
When she was 19, she moved into an apartment with staff support, and began working with Employment Services on getting a job. The first job she secured was with Transport Graphics. She was still unfocused and unable to safely cross a street by herself. Using a note from her physician, Employment Solutions secured her transportation which allowed her to take a cab rather than the bus. She was very proud of her job and worked there 2 years.
With each passing year, she became more and more adept at caring for herself independently at home and in the community. Six years ago, she again worked with Employment Solutions towards one of her dream jobs - caring for animals. She volunteered at CARE, and ultimately earned a part time job at Animal Care Center boarding kennel as a kennel tech. This year, she was able to secure another part time job independently using the skills she had learned from Employment Solutions. This job is at Art Inspired, which was her other dream job - to be an artist. She works assisting teaching art classes, making cards/candles and selling her own individual art work. She now exhibits work at every First Friday Art Walk downtown
At 36, Jessie lives on her own and does the following totally independently:
- Household cleaning, cooking, and shopping
- Managing her finances, including checking, saving accounts, and online banking
- Social life (all of her friends are ones she has made outside the system, including all ages and lifestyles). She went camping in Louisiana this year with friends.
- Transportation on the public bus system
Because Jessie has realized how important the skills she has are to her independence, she volunteers to come into classes for individuals as a guest speaker to talk about working towards goals, and how to reach them. She tries to be a role model for others.
To us as parents, the life she lives now is so incredible. During the height of the seizure times, she could not even find the bathroom by herself, so we didn’t even know we could dream of this life. We are are totally convinced that this would not have happened without the guidance from The Arc of the Ozarks.
Melissa and Rick