Erin, 38, and her dad, John, had a special bond as many fathers and daughters do. He was a big advocate for Erin throughout her school years and was instrumental in getting her involved in activities in the community such as Special Olympics. After graduation from Hickman High School, Erin and John spent a lot of time together. The two would run errands together, go for walks at Parkade Center and just hang out. But when John passed away unexpectedly in 2014, Erin needed to find a new way to spend her days. Erin began volunteering at the City of Columbia in the utilities department where her mother, Gloria works. “Erin helps with all the shredding for the department,” says Gloria. “We definitely keep her busy!” Erin says she likes volunteering and having her own office space at the City, and she enjoys interacting with employees.
Erin’s Support Coordinator, Tina Rowe, began looking into possible day programs for Erin. When the Community Connection day program at Woodhaven had an opening in April 2015, Erin started attending and hasn’t looked back. “She really loves being a part of the program,” says Gloria, Erin’s mom. “It gets her out and about and involved in the community.”
Erin says she loves to spend time with “the gang” – her friends she has made while participating in Community Connections three days a week. “I love it,” says Erin with a grin. “We do arts and crafts, go shopping and eat lunch.” Gloria says the friends she’s made through the program and the staff members all feel like part of the family now. The group of 5-6 individuals in the program go on field trips to go shopping, go to the movie theater, make cookies for local nursing homes, and go out to eat lunch together. “Everyone in Erin’s group all seem to get along well and have fun together,” says Gloria.
Erin has been receiving services through Boone County Family Resources since 1998. During the majority of that time the agency mostly assisted with Erin’s involvement with Special Olympics. “She’s been participating in Special Olympics sports for 30 years now,” says Gloria. “She started as soon as she turned eight and has been doing it ever since.” The agency helped cover participation, tournament and travel fees. Bowling and Track and Field are Erin’s sports of choice.
“Erin has such a positive attitude toward everything she does,” says Tina. “She and her family have gone through a very difficult time over the past year and it has been great to see her enjoy activities with her peers. Working with Erin and her family through this challenging time has been a true honor.”
Gloria says she and Erin have found many things they enjoy doing together when they have free time like eating lunch together on Mondays and Fridays when Erin is volunteering in the office. “We love to go to CJs for lunch on Fridays,” says Gloria. “We also go get our nails done every couple of weeks or so. That’s our “girl time.” The two also like to go shopping and to the movies and spending time with Erin’s two adult brothers who live here in Columbia, too. “We are fortunate to have family close by and good group of friends,” says Gloria.