One Step at a Time

December 23, 2020

Independent Living Coordinator Ashley Thomas works primarily with residents ages 16 and up, helping ensure they are prepared for life as adults. They learn the everyday skills teenagers naturally absorb in family settings – basic food prep, cooking, cleaning, light home maintenance and yard work – and gaining proficiency in these skills boosts their confidence and readiness for life outside the Home. They also focus on each resident’s personal needs, such as getting an ID, learning to drive, identifying goals that are important to them and making sure they follow through, which is another necessary skill. “I’ll be your toolbox and your cheerleader,” Thomas tells them, “but I hold them accountable.”

Ryan is a wonderful example of how learning these skills builds confidence and character in teens. A second-time resident of the Home, Ryan spent some time with us prior to Ms. Ashley coming on staff. She implies that while his first stay might not have been a positive experience, but when he returned, Thomas set all history aside and Ryan got the opportunity for a fresh new start.

“I let the kids know we can talk about your past, but we don’t have to,” Thomas says. “It’s not your fault that you’re in care.”

Ryan has particular challenges, and together they spend time working on the specific skills he needs to be independent and safe. Thomas has also been delighted to see him really open up and embrace his new routine at the Home. Thomas recognized quickly that Ryan lit up around the male staff members, especially Richard Huitt, our Facilities Manager, as well as Mr. Antonio and Mr. Edward. Ryan has learned so well with one-on-one instruction that he is now keeping his own schedule of daily tasks where he helps keep the cottage clean, helps in the kitchen, and maintains the grounds with the staff members he looks up to. Thomas has enjoyed seeing him blossom and eagerly helping those around him.