JFCS Guardianship helps our community’s most vulnerable individuals with decision-making, financial management, case management, and more, taking full responsibility for adults who cannot meet their own needs. That’s why, when caseworker Patty McKeown met her client Shabresha in 2012, she worked to get her independent housing over the course of two years. Shabresha, known as Breezy to her family, had been in an institutional facility since she was 14 when Patty first connected with her. Patty felt that an independent living situation would help Shabresha, now 27 years old, learn how to care for herself better and grow on a personal level.
For guardianship clients, living without any type of support is not possible. Some individuals like Shabresha rely on a team of caregivers that help with daily routines, transportation, medical care management, and other life activities. For these clients, living independently means living outside of an institutional facility or residential with some ability to care for themselves. In Shabresha’s case, Patty worked with a support team from Passavant Memorial Homes Family of Services (Passavant) to help make independent living a reality for her. Passavant was able to purchase and modify a home to meet her needs, and they provided staff to help with daily living, transportation, and care. Patty works with the support team to advocate on Shabresha’s behalf and help them understand her situation, checking to ensure her care is adequate and appropriate. She also works with Shabresha to help her continue to process past trauma and work on gaining self-understanding and self-sufficiency. Living in her own home is just the first step in many to learning to live independently.
Patty says she’s seen Shabresha show immense personal growth in the last several years. “It’s been great just to see all the opportunities for her, to see her working and doing activities out in the community,” she explained. Shabresha even got a job and is now working on making friends. She says she is happy to be living in her house and getting out in the community.
Learning & Growing
In many ways, Shabresha is just like any other 20-something woman. She likes getting her nails done, going to the movies, and drawing. Her room is filled with drawings of herself, family, and her support team. She loves showing her drawings and her room off—she picked the vibrant pink color herself, along with the teal and purple bedspread to go along with it. She also started swimming, an activity that was somewhat challenging for her but she has grown to love all the same. She has a tablet filled with photos of her extended family, which she is happy to show off. Christmas and birthdays are special days to her because she loves receiving presents, and she recently started thinking about buying presents for others at holidays, as well.
She also loves being the star of photos and videos, showing off her poses in front of a vibrant backdrop that reminds her to “dream all the dreams.” She made sure to include her support team in the photos. Her home is filled with bright colors, artwork, photos, and items that help make the space feel like her own.
“Shabresha is finally starting to recognize herself and learn how to show others she really cares about them. She’s really maturing,” Patty said. More than just having a house to herself, she is learning how to do things on her own, learning more about what she likes, and learning how to express care to others in her life. For Patty, these small moments of personal growth are milestones because they are part of the process of Shabresha learning how to live independently.