charlesIn December of 1991, Charles moved from a nursing home to a newly opened, CSI-supported ICF/MR. Charles was quite happy there, having new access to the community and his own room in which he cultivated plants, one of his great loves. Among his five housemates, however, Charles had no real peer. Charles has a developmental disability, cerebral palsy, and little if any intellectual disability. He uses a wheelchair to mobilize and cannot self transfer. CSI’s ICF/MR Program Director expressed to Charles her concern about his peer grouping and proposed he live still more independently. Her concept was that Charles would live in an accessible apartment with a non-disabled apartment mate who, in turn, would be engaged to provide Charles some assistance. Initially, Charles was skeptical about her ideas but, with extensive discussions, had within a year adopted her proposal. In April of 1995 both an appropriate apartment mate and apartment were located; renovations were undertaken to make the apartment accessible (further, more extensive modifications were made later during his tenancy).

As Charles prepared to move into his apartment, however, his apartment mate suffered a heart attack and died. Charles was unnerved, but wanted to move ahead. When asked about potential new apartment mates, he asked instead to live alone. While at first thought this seemed an impossibility, a new plan took shape. Charles had already established a positive relationship with his landlord, Donna, living in the home’s upstairs and the new plan centered about her. Donna agreed to provide certain supports to Charles for a monthly stipend; CSI agreed to provide respite staffing; and VNA was engaged to provide home health services. Over time, the number of hours contributed by each partner has changed somewhat, but all partners remain committed today to supporting Charles.

Over the past nearly 13 years, Charles has become part of Donna’s family. Charles is very happy and leads a very fulfilling life. He still enjoys gardening and has won ribbons when entering his plants in competitions. At home Charles enjoys listening to various selections from his vast collection of music. He also enjoys woodworking projects, baking, accessing the Internet and e-mail on his computer, and visiting with friends and neighbors. Charles frequently spends warm, summer nights moving about the neighborhood socializing with neighbors on their front porches. With Donna’s support and assistance, Charles remains close to his brother, e-mailing and calling his brother frequently, and inviting his brother to all holiday gatherings.

In 2005, Charles sailed from New York to Bermuda with Donna and her family. There are wonderful pictures of Charles sharing in on-board social events. He is tentatively planning another cruise to the Bahamas in 2008. In July 2008 he attended his first Yankees game in New York and already plans a second trip to see the team. His other favorite day trips remain the Foxwood and Mohegan Sun Casinos; the CT beaches of Rocky Neck and Hammonesett; and flower shows wherever and whenever he can find them.