Integrated Living Opportunities
Rachel Goldschmidt’s Success Story: ILO Helps Support the Whole Life Model
When it comes to the trials and tribulations of moving into adulthood, ILO self-advocates are as normal as any other young adults. There is usually no glorious “Hallelujah,” just a series of small steps that can be best appreciated in retrospect. “Success” is more about an ability to keep going and growing, rather than arriving at some final destination.
Rachel’s path to supported living began six years ago, when her parents heard about ILO and started making frequent trips from New Jersey to DC to find out more and meet ILO families. After three years, Rachel and her mother decided to give DC a try, and moved into a furnished apartment while her father remained in NJ. Rachel found a job as a teacher’s assistant and learned how to get around on public transportation, one of the big appeals of being in the District. An even sweeter reason to be in the District for Rachel: it is the home of her sister, brother-in-law and two young nephews.
A year ago, a spot opened up in a house shared by two other young women who are working professionals. Even though the rent consumed most of Rachel’s salary, and would not be sustainable in the long run, with encouragement and support from her family Rachel moved in. Living with housemates was a new experience and brought new challenges, of course. In this case, it wasn’t that there was friction, but there was so little contact between the housemates that it did not feel like a community. Rachel’s parents were contemplating moving her to a studio apartment when they realized that what they needed was the help of ILO’s community builder. Supported living and working are, after all, what ILO is about.
They got in touch with the ILO’s DC community builder, Holly, and her supervisor Sherita, and asked them to get involved. Sherita emailed the housemates to organize a meeting to talk about ILO and explain supported living. This turned out to be a very good idea. On a Friday night when everyone was available, they met in the house dining room to share drinks, snacks, and a conversation.
Sherita explained what supported living entailed and shared the “whole life” model and its value to all. The housemates asked questions. Rachel, as well as the housemates, talked about challenges they faced. A monthly housemates meeting was suggested as a follow-up. Life at the house has since improved; including an invitation to Rachel to join a housemate’s dinner party.
We all need and want community. Building it takes awareness, care, and ongoing involvement. When help is necessary, it’s good to have people you know and trust to rely on. ILO creates the building blocks for success with the use of the community builders.