Marci loves to take a visitor on a tour of her new home west of Angola. That’s no surprise; it's a fine new villa, with three bedrooms, three baths, a big pantry, and a washer and dryer. There’s a garage where she keeps a four-wheeled, two-rider quadricycle. Her bedroom has a closet about 8 feet wide and a window-seat along one side where she arranges favorite stuffed animals, books and action figures.
The villa itself isn’t the only thing that’s new. For Marci, 28, living more independently, apart from her parents for the first time, is a new experience, one that she began in May. She’s proud and excited to have her own key to her own home. Her mother, Connie Sweeney, said Marci had considered some other living arrangements, going as far as visiting another staffed home for a sleepover. But Easterseals RISE in Angola helped sweeten the appeal of Marci’s new home when staff arranged for Marci to move in with Molly and Brianna, whom Marci considers her best friends.
What enables Marci to live in her new villa home is a Community Integration and Habilitation (CIH) waiver. Through the CIH waiver, Easterseals RISE provides a lot of support for Marci, Molly and Brianna. Direct Support Professionals from RISE work in their home around the clock. Those staff members are there to help the women with things they can’t do on their own. Just as important, staff members steer the women toward learning to do more things for themselves and become more independent.
Connie Sweeney said she’s already seen advances in Marci’s independence in the short time she’s lived in the new home. Marci does better at keeping her bedroom tidy. She takes a bigger role in doing her laundry. And she works with staff to plan her menu, a week at a time, every Monday.
Exercise has always been a challenge for Marci, her mother said. “She doesn’t like to get hot. She doesn’t like to exercise,” Connie Sweeney said. She’s making progress, though. She walks around their neighborhood with a roommate sometimes. Marci usually enjoys socializing, so riding her quadricycle with a staff member can be appealing.
Six years of participating in day services at Easterseals RISE laid the foundation for Marci’s move toward more independence. Marci typically goes there from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It builds structure into the core of her weekdays, much as going to work does for some people.
“Having Marci at (Easterseals) RISE the past six years has given her a sense of independence and purpose,” her mother said. “She enjoys the classes, activities, socialization and community events and thinks of the other clients and staff as family.”
Life also is changing for Connie and Stan Sweeney, who live only a few minutes’ drive from Marci now.
“We can sleep in,” she said. In reality, “sleeping in” means getting a normal night’s sleep. Marci’s sleep rhythms are reversed so that she likes to stay up late, get up early — 4 a.m. isn’t unusual — and then nap during the day.
“We can go for a walk. We can go out to eat,” Connie said. When Marci lived with them, it was impossible for both to leave the house at the same time unless Marci went with them.
“We always thought Marci would live with us forever, but realized the older we are getting, that we needed a plan for her into the future,” she said. When an opportunity arose for Marci to live with other consumers from Easterseals RISE, with the guidance of staff members, “we knew this was the right choice for us and Marci.”
Marci’s feeling it, too. As her mother drove her from day services to Marci’s home, Marci told her, "I love both my families ... you and Dad and the ones at my own house."