We go into their home and we teach them how to cook, budget and shop. We teach them how to launder their clothes. We teach them how to take the bus, and how to get back and forth to different things in the community.
I think personally it would give me a great feeling to know that Beth had a place she could call her home long after we were gone -- and I know that is true of other parents that we know.
The neatest thing about living in my own place is cause I love it here... I can do things on my own.
My dream was always living in a house and I got that dream, and I made that dream come true.
I really like it. This is the best place I ever lived, and my Dad was so happy when we found out about this program and found this place.
HOPE is renovating a three-bedroom, two-bath house on Bacarro St. in Long Beach. Funds from the Del Harbor Foundation, US Bank, Union Bank, Rose Hill Foundation, and year-end donations will be used for a “make over” at the property. Extensive renovations include remodeling two bathrooms, removing and replacing the outdoor patio, installing new floors in the living room, bathrooms and hallway, and creating an on-site laundry for the tenants. The kitchens and bathrooms will be made accessible for non-ambulatory tenants. HOPE is in the process of a similar remodeling project at Clark Ave. in Long Beach. Both projects are projected to be completed by June 2014. HOPE is partnering with a local Boy Scout troop, as part of an Eagle Scout project, to install drought resistant landscaping at the property using funds from the City of Long Beach Lawn to Garden (L2G) program.
One day, I imagine myself working at a library, living in a nice house, and perhaps supporting a family. While this dream may sound easy to reach, it is something not so easily attainable among individuals with disabilities. According to the National Council on Disability (NCD), statistics show that “individuals with disabilities are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as individuals without disabilities” (New Freedom Initiative, 2001). This is why College to Career, or C2C for short, exists. It helps students with disabilities, like myself, succeed in life.
Prior to C2C, I started college at California State University Long Beach after graduating from high school. My first college year was disastrous, as I did not pass any of my classes due to many unfortunate circumstances, such as my confusion with how the assignments were posted, my laptop computer dying in the middle of the college year, and mainly, my autism disability. After that fiasco, I tried to get into Long Beach City College, but failed because I missed the cutoff date. Challenges like these are not uncommon among students with developmental disabilities. In fact, NCD points out that “young adults with disabilities in postsecondary education are less likely to persevere and complete a degree or certificate than are their peers without disabilities.” Fortunately, my counselor from Harbor Regional Center referred me to C2C, which was recently implemented in October of 2011. I was hesitant at first, but my family told me that this was my best bet to make something of myself, so I tried it, and have stuck with it ever since.
My weekly C2C schedule consists of attending my required, fully-integrated classes in the morning, then participating in four hours of Educational Coaching, and finally going home to do two hours of support with my Direct Support Provider (DSP). Thanks to my Educational Coaches, I have learned school skills that even my teachers have not taught me and I have become more diligent in completing my homework. Thanks to my DSPs, I have become more efficient and more independent in cleaning my house, buying my groceries, and preparing my meals. In fact, I actually enjoy doing these responsibilities. Not to mention, thanks to HOPE, I live in a beautiful house with three other roommates, which is conveniently located just a couple of blocks away from campus.
Both components of C2C (college and independent living), promote independence and encourage community integration. Activities and field trips, such as “Guys/Girls Night,” “Cooking Class,” the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Gardens, all teach important social skills.
It is really important for students with disabilities to get the support they need to get on track and reach their goals. In just one year of actively participating in C2C, I have had internship opportunities and have been recognized on the Dean’s List with Highest Distinction. I am on track to graduating with an AA in Library Science and aspire to transfer to CSULB after I meet all my goals with C2C. I, Julian, am proud to be part of a program that is paving the way for other students with disabilities; we are changing the statistics one student at a time. My story is a true testimony that a disability does not have to stop a person’s success.
On March 7, HOPE received approval from the City Council in Norwalk to access $502,000 in CHDO (Community Housing and Development Organization) funds and purchase two three bedroom homes for persons with developmental disabilities. The two properties will be rented to six persons with developmental disabilities on HOPE’s wait list of over 150 people. The funding is the first major block of committed funds towards HOPE’s five-year Capital Campaign with the goal of raising over 2.6 million dollars that will provide fifteen new units for affordable rental housing. HOPE has now raised almost 20% of our goal! HOPE’s partnership with the City of Norwalk began in 2006 when the city provided $532,000 to purchase and renovate the Angell property where three ladies with developmental disabilities live. We are thrilled that the city has decided to expand its partnership with HOPE by making these funds available to us!
Grant Baxter, our tenant living at the newly purchased Ximeno condominium in Long Beach, made possible by a grant by the County of Los Angeles Housing Authority City of Industry Fund, is enjoying his new activity: cycling. Although he owns a car, Grant decided that cycling rather than driving is a better way to get to his job at Office Depot in downtown Long Beach. His seven-minute ride provides him with daily exercise and saves money for gas. Grant is also pleased that he can have an impact on the environment by riding his bike rather than driving his car and polluting the environment. With the help of a friend from work he purchased a Vintage 1974 Schwinn bike which he refurbished and painted red. Every weekend Grant and a cycling club of over one hundred enthusiastic riders tour the coast by Seal Beach and Long Beach. The club has even taken trips as far as Newport Beach and back. Grant says that this activity has provided him a network of friends as well as an enjoyable, relaxing activity. Since moving to the condominium that he shares with two other tenants with developmental disabilities, Grant says that he is more independent. He keeps in close touch with his family, visiting them weekly. When he sees his sister, they bake a casserole which he takes back home and cooks for the rest of the week. He and his roommates share a three-bedroom, two-bath condominium unit with a common kitchen and living room. Grant is happy to live in a HOPE property where he can live independently, work, and ride his bike daily. Welcome to HOPE, Grant!