Life and Work Connections

Ellen Excels at Independent Living

January 6, 2016
Ellen sitting at a desk in her bedroom
Ellen sits at her desk in the bedroom of her apartment.

Moving into your own place is something that most young adults can’t wait to do and Ellen is no exception. With life skills training through Life & Work Connections and some determination, Ellen set a goal to move into her own apartment which she accomplished in October of last year.

“I LOVE IT!” exclaims Ellen. “I can do anything I want to now, like go home or play Wii games downstairs [in the lobby]. It’s different living on my own because my parents aren’t there to tell me what to do. But I have to remember what I need to do on my own now.”

In order to get where she is today, Ellen began training in mid-2013 with Christi Brown, a Community Skills Specialist with Life & Work Connections. The two focused on kitchen safety and cooking, valuation of money while grocery shopping, and safety in public and on the internet. As Ellen’s learning progressed to success this past fall, she began working with Diane Barber, another Community Skills Specialist. Diane helped Ellen hone her skills for her new living quarters. “[I learned] how to take care of myself, go to bed on time, clean the dishes and make my bed,” says Ellen. She also learned a special method to planning the trash can liner in the trash can since she has limited use of her left hand. “My dad taught me that,” she says proudly.

With her new-found independent living, Ellen enjoys spending time with other residents in her apartment building. “I go downstairs to visit with other people that live here, or play Wii with them, or I watch TV. I spend a lot of time studying to learn how to be the Resident Association Secretary. One of my friends is on the Resident Association Board and is helping me learn all the things I need to know. I also made friends in the Art Room. That’s where I like to spend time with my friends.”

“Ellen does not let anything stop her,” says Diane. “She told me that her mom and dad told her that living alone would be a hard job. I reminded her how hard she worked to learn how to live on her own. She remembered that she can do almost anything she puts her mind to.”

Even though Ellen has mastered the basics of living independently, she still wants to improve. “I am working on cleaning and being safe in the kitchen, and I will start learning how to cook soon,” she says enthusiastically. “I am also learning to clean my room and make my bed.”

Though Ellen has done all the necessary training to get to this point, she says she receives a lot of support from her family. Her parents and brother and sister are available to help when Ellen needs it and provide the reassurance she needs to make it on her own.

“Ellen’s spirit shows so easily on her facial expressions and her general excitement about all of her new adventures,” says Diane. “She is very excited to help others understand that they, too, can live independently someday. She said, ‘They just need to try and work hard like me!’”