Jessica relaxes on her couch, watching a movie on a portable DVD player. She just finished eating a snack and is hanging out with her dog, Winston, before her bus comes to pick her up for work. Her tidy, clean apartment is sparsely decorated, but that’s only because she’s just moved in and is still in the process of getting settled. For this 25-year-old, this is a big step toward meeting her long-time goal of living on her own independently.
“It’s happening,” says Jessica. “I’m nervous about being away from my family, but I’m ready though. I’m happy to move into my own apartment.”
Jessica has lived with her twin sister and some girlfriends, but her sister is now married and planning to move to Cambodia in the coming year. Jessica knew it was time to plan for being on her own.
“I’m most excited about having my own space!” says Jessica with a smile on her face.
For now, Jessica just hangs out at the apartment during the day – she hasn’t yet spent the night because she and her parents wanted to have a safety-net in place due to her seizure disorder. “My Dad is getting Life Alert installed so that in case I fall or need help, there is someone there.”
Jessica works with Maureen Johnson, a community skills specialist with the Life & Work Connections program at Boone County Family Resources, on developing her skills for living independently. “We’ve been working on paying bills, getting organized, planning a schedule,” says Maureen. “Jessica is learning to keep track of all the details necessary for living on her own.”
Jessica also participates on the Life & Work Connections Work Crew learning valuable work and communication skills so that she can prepare herself for a job out in the community. “I like working on the crew, but I think I would like to work with animals someday. My grandpa has a farm with horses and cows. When I was younger, there was a little calf that would only come to me when I called her. That was neat.”
During her free time, Jessica is spending as much time with her twin sister and her husband as she can before the big move. “I’m really going to miss them both.” She also enjoys watching movies and playing with Winston in the small yard of the apartment building. She still has a box or two to unpack as she settles in to her new home. “I have a few new things for my apartment. I’m just easing my way into it. Baby steps,” she says. “Baby steps.”