Madea was a princess at her very own Quinceañera -- complete with a gorgeous gown and crown!
Her parents were in tears to see (over Zoom of course) her in the very special white and baby blue fancy gown. All of her roommates were there in person, and got all dressed up for Madea's 15th birthday too. They had a spectacular time -- delicious food, treats, dancing and a piñata. This could not have been a better day for Madea and the dedicated staff, who also dressed up, and who made it all happen. Dorothy Gonzalez, Administrator boasts, "Our staff members make it happen every day through everyday actions -- and they have a remarkable sense of responsibility for each and every one of our residents. While living at Hope House, each staff member is tasked with giving the residents the best time of their lives."
The smiles on all of the resident's faces, after hours and hours of preparation, for Madea's Quinceñera made all of the preparations worth it for all!
"I have noticed improvements in Rosie's behavior and I believe these changes are due, in large part, to the excellent care that the staff are providing to my daughter," said Luis, Rosie's dad recently. And, he continues by stating, "Hope House opened the doors for Rosie. Prior to that it was really hard for us to find the resources for Rosie. At the age of 3, after noticing that Rosie was running behind other kids and harming her sister, pushing others, screaming, not wanting to walk, and throwing things, she was diagnosed with autism. I had no idea what that was. I found it really hard to find services. During this time we were living in an apartment on the second floor Rosie opened the window and jumped out and fell flat on her face. At the hospital she was terrified and I sang her songs until she calmed down. X-rays showed that her face needed to be reconstructed and a titanium plate was inserted. We still found it difficult to get information and resources about Rosie, and her very serious outbursts continued. One day, a friend told me about Hope House."
Dorothy, Hope House Administrator, describes Rosie as very smart, and remembers Rosie's very first day. Dorothy said, "shortly after her dad left, on a piece of paper she wrote 'where am I', and 'what is this place,' and then handed it to me!" She was nervous, but very soon the staff was able to make her feel comfortable -- playing games, and paying lots of attention to her.
Fast forward 9 years and Rosie loves living at Hope House with her housemates. Dorothy says that her behavior can still be challenging -- she can still be anti-social, and when anxious, she tends to "spin", however, overall she does well. She can get dressed by herself, do her own laundry, knows everyone's birthdays, is t her academic grade level, sings beautifully, and communicates especially when encouraged. Dorothy loves to hear her sing nd said, You're doing a great job Rosie, we all love to watch your growth and development."
In 2002, when Jaquelin was 11, I was looking for a program because we were at a point in her development where I felt she was in a holding pattern and not making any progress. In addition to communication and self care, we had some behavioral issues arise and I felt I could be stifling her ability to move forward by not looking for other opportunities. Within the first few months of being at Hope House, Jaquelin exceeded in areas in which I was afraid she had reached her capacity. With her behavior issues being monitored, we could take a look at what might be causing them. A plan was put into place to decrease her outbursts. Because of Jaquelin's sensory issues, she will always have behavioral challenges, but I am really happy with the success and progress Jaquelin has made at Hope House.
Wanda Magee, Administrator at Hope House, said that all of the staff adore Jaque as well. “She’s just a breath of fresh air, energetic, adventurous and curious,” said Wanda.
“It’s so amazing,” remarked Mary Watson, Assistant Executive Director, “when she first came to live at Hope House she rarely spoke, was anti-social and isolated herself. You would never know she was the same person. So from not talking much at all to being able to call everyone by name and sing the Ariel theme song so beautifully…it’s just such a transformation. We are so proud of her.”
Always Laughing, Joking and Smiling!
Everyday Little Things
It's the everyday little things -- learning how to take turns at tossing a ball, brushing teeth, buying a snack, washing hands, mixing chocolate milk or looking both ways when crossing the street -- that are some of the BIG things that the children and adults at Hope House for the Multiple-Handicapped practice every day. To achieve these goals, Ookie, Administrator at Hope House's Cedar Home explains, "It's a process and our well-trained staff practice with clients every day. And yes, there are some good days, some bad, and in the end, we know that learning is what matters and consistency is the key."
She recalls a recent example. "We frequent a corner market every Saturday so that we can teach out clients how to pa for items. Last month, Nathan tried to leave the store without paying. Each staff member is taught to use positive techniques to correct this type of behavior. In this case body positioning as used to ensure that Nathan got to the cashier to pay." Additionally, Ookie remarked that store employees, who know Nathan, "have become a part of his visits and always offer friendly waves and smiles--especially helpful on bad days!"
Training sessions, such as these, with our well-trained staff, are meant to promote independence. They are practiced over and over and over again and the resident is verbally praised for their success. "The act of Nathan going to the store now has become more than teaching life skills, but he is making meaningful connections along the way. We know that with more opportunities for practice, Nathan and other clients like him, learn to become fully able to participate in the community where they live."
Nathan's mom, Priscilla, agrees, and remarked, "the kind, patient and well-trained staff at Cedar House work every day to help Nathan develop the skills to participate in the community."
Supporting Sam's Journey
Pages and pages of Sam's art was exhibited at our 3rd annual fundraising dinner held in November. "Look the samurai are fighting. I also draw hearts, you know, for the girls. Do you like it?" Sam asked the onlookers and they looked through his stack of distinctive artwork, using mostly pens and colorful markers.
Much of his artwork depict scenes of fighting samurai and muscular warriors, and hearts and flowers for female buyers. His drawings are also for sale at the Hope Chest Thrift Store. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to Sam. "Drawings help him channel his feelings on paper," commented Dorothy Gonzalez, Administrator, who worked with Sam in his youth at Hope House. "He was always very emotional with his art" continued Dorothy. When asked what he intends to do with the money he earns from his drawings, without hesitation, Sam said, "I am going to purchase new clothes, a tablet, enroll in a mixed martial arts class and visit my grandparents in Las Vegas next year."
Nearly a decade ago, Sam successfully transferred from Hope House children's home to one of our adult homes. Now, in his early 30's he lives with five housemates and is learning to manage his own money and make healthier choices. There was a strong sense of security and familiarity when he made the choice to move between homes. That's due to the values and philosophy of Hope House which ensure continuity of care. As a result, Sam was able to flourish and has made good life decisions, including his career goals.
Sam has chosen to work in food service, but has worked in landscaping and office work. In food services he is able to make the most money in a small diner that caters to people with disability and the community. He serves customers their breakfast and lunch and busses tables. "A great deal of reassurance, guidance and care goes into supporting Sam on his journey to become his best self. With increased exposure and opportunities to explore, an allowance for mistakes, and a lot of practice, he will continue to learn how to be more independent. We are very proud of him," says Ookie Voong, Administrator of our adult homes.