Michael, Dennie & Ron

Former developmental center residents thriving in the community

Meet Michael, Dennie and Ron

Gov. Pat Quinn's Rebalancing Initiative is enabling hundreds of people with disabilities to move out of large institutions and move into their own homes in the community. IDHS visited one of those homes in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood and found three men, all former state operated developmental center residents, thriving and living a new life of choices and dignity. They make their own meals, do their own laundry, go out for walks or play basketball at a local park. One resident works part-time earning a paycheck he uses for shopping with his girlfriend or going to concerts.

"I am enjoying a lot more, a lot more freedom. I like the freedom," said 39-year-old Michael. "I like going for walks. I like spending one-on-one time. I like playing basketball and watching basketball on TV. We go to the Y once a month and walk around the track and I play basketball and then lift weights."

Robin Lank, is a regional director with Individual Advocacy Group (IAG). She oversees the management of individuals with developmental disabilities in their homes.

"We provide the staff to support them in their own home environment and part of our agency's mission is to integrate the individuals in the community. They're living in their own home. Giving them opportunities for choices and provide them the staff to support them in that role, not only integrate them in their own home, but their own bedroom, their own bath, and have an ownership of their own home."

Lank says they encourage community integration activities that get them out and involved whether it's going grocery shopping, banking, going to the Y, or going to concerts, fairs, events and things anyone would enjoy doing in the community.

Michael, a country music fan, says his ultimate goal is to get married to his girlfriend and live on his own.

"I get up on my own and make my bed, brush my teeth, and vacuum my room and all that. I have to do that every day. I do dishes. I help Karen in the kitchen, and I'm one of Karen's biggest helpers, said Michael. "We work as a team. She's one of the best persons we have ever had so I like helping her."

Michael, who has a sister he calls "Mom" living an hour away, also has a part-time job answering phones at IAG.

Michael's roommates are Ron and Dennie. Ron is 38-years-old and lived at Jacksonville for eight years before moving into the community. He enjoys taking walks around the neighborhood and outings to the park. He also enjoys spending time with his mom who lives nearby.

Dennie, 42, lived at JDC for two years and now enjoys having his own room and following his own routine that includes getting up early, making breakfast and working on his art projects. He also likes cars, music and Star Trek.


View a Transition Success Video: Michael, Dennie & Ron