When asked about “independence,” many people think of the 4th of July: Independence Day. But for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, the opportunity to live on their own provides a reason to celebrate independence every day of the year.
“MHA’s Outreach Team serves individuals who have intellectual or developmental disabilities and live in their own apartments in the community,” said Kim Barbero, Program Director for Integrative Community Living Outreach with MHA. “These folks are motivated to live on their own and take steps to be independent, they just face personal challenges and need a little help in certain areas. We provide that assistance.”

Folks often need support with nutrition, grocery shopping, meal preparation and cooking. They might need help with planning or administer medications. Some people need assistance with budgeting or apartment maintenance. Support often involves advocating at medical appointments or with agencies like Social Security and MassHealth. Any aspect of life where someone may need assistance to have the greatest opportunity for independence, we can help. Here are some independence success stories:

• Jan was asked to leave home when she turned 18, and still found a way to graduate from high school. We helped her move into her own apartment. Now she has her own car and takes classes at a local college.
• Shawn used to be in a shared living arrangement, but last winter we helped him get his own apartment. COVID-19 has limited his community activities and church attendance, but he is living successfully on his own with support from Outreach.
• Elena has been with MHA for several years and is now living in her own apartment. Recently she got her Learner’s Permit and attends driving school. She’s also working on her GED.
• Brian was living with his parents when he came to us. Now he has a full time job at a home center and lives, independently — on his own.
• Louisa and David share an apartment with their two young children. David supports his family by working at a court facility doing a great job in building maintenance.
• Timothy got involved with a group of “friends” who weren’t the best influence, but now he is free of that crowd. MHA helped him secure an apartment. He talks with his Outreach worker regularly and is back on the right track, including working a steady job.

All of these adults, young and older, are able to maintain their independence with minimal support. “Everyone needs help in their lives,” said Barbero, “but these individuals are going out and maintaining success living on their own. With just a little assistance, they’re living with independence.”