Dawn is a woman who fiercely values her independence, therefore, when she moved in 2010 to one of MOKA’s Specialized Residential homes, her immediate personal goal was to move to a setting which provided her the greater independence she desired. Dawn also places high value on her family, her relationships with others, community involvement, and employment. Because she needed to build her resume, she started to volunteer at her local YMCA. She first worked at the front desk greeting people as they walked in, scanning membership cards, and completing other customer service duties. In 2015, after only a few months with the YMCA, Dawn was approached by YMCA leadership with a paid job opportunity in the Facilities Department where she was asked to maintain the pool area—gathering used towels, laundering and folding them, and restocking them in the pool area. She noted, “They kind of talked me into working there. I didn’t think it would go that quick.”
Dawn continued to work hard on her goals and in 2017 chose to relocate to a more independent setting within a community adult foster care home. Since moving, she has maintained her employment, acclimated to a new environment, established friendships with peers, developed rapport with support staff, and has expanded her transportation options by participating in Travel Training with The RAPID. [Note: Travel Training is a service that any community member can partake in if they would like to learn more about navigating public transportation along the fixed bus route. The fixed route is cost-effective and provides riders flexibility with schedules.] Both of these are important to Dawn as she is a woman on the go—learning the Rapid was critical—not only in getting to her job, but also her health care appointments and social engagements.
Another unique element about Dawn’s move toward greater independence is how it has increased her natural support system. She established healthy, meaningful relationships prior to her most recent move and remains connected with several of her former housemates and support team. Her friends—Cathy, Bobbie, Katrina and Elise genuinely care about each other. Dawn frequently shares with her Supports Coordinator her adventures in the community with these friends—movies at local theatres, dining at Culver’s, shopping at Target or Wal-Mart and various retail outlets. They all attended a Kid Rock Concert at the Van Andel Arena. And of course sometimes they simply get together to celebrate birthdays and holidays, share a meal, and have cake and ice cream.
Dawn has participated in various services and programs at MOKA, even pilot programs/services, providing valuable feedback which MOKA, after review, decided to implement. Dawn is a strong advocate for herself and others. She is compassionate, independent, knowledgeable, and determined to work towards her hopes and dreams and, along the way, doing what she can to better the lives of others.