Relaxing on the back deck of their home, looking out over Goodyear Lake, is where Michele Scanlon and her mother, Joanne Andela, spend a lot of their time together. Drinking a cold beverage, settled comfortably in Adirondack chairs, they share in conversation while enjoying all of the beautiful views Goodyear Lake has to offer. At her family home is where we met Michele to talk with her and her mother Joanne about Michele’s recent move to Springbrook’s Cook Street Community Home.
Michele greeted us at the door with a welcoming hello as she picked up and nestled her cat close to her face. She joyfully gave us a tour of her childhood home, pointing out family photos, introducing us to her other cat, and even giving us a glimpse of her massive movie collection. After only a few moments speaking with Michele it was easy to see that she is kind, lively, and loves her family and her family home.
Planning for the Next Step
Michele is a recent graduate of the School at Springbrook GEMS Day Program. She is outgoing and quick to introduce herself to a new face. As a student, she was on Springbrook’s Special Olympics soccer and basketball teams. She was a dedicated student who juggled academics, athletics, and hanging out with her friends. A couple of years before her June 2019 graduation from the School at Springbrook, she and Joanne began discussing Michele’s many residential options together. They knew they needed time to find the best place for Michele to meet her goal of moving into a place of her own. Among the many considerations of a new home were Michele’s strengths and needs. She excels at everyday tasks and enjoys her independence, but sometimes needs to be reminded of small but important things, like taking medicine.
Michele moved to the Springbrook Cook Street Community Home in late April of 2019. Cook Street is a perfect fit for Michele—not only because her best friend Maddy lives there—but because of the close proximity to her childhood home. The location makes it a lot easier for her friends and family to visit, which is extremely important to Michele.
Since moving into her new home, Michele has decorated her bedroom walls with family photos and her many sports medals. Michele also has an amazing movie collection that she enjoys sharing with her new housemates. At Cook Street, Michele’s housemates are a variety of ages giving her a wealth of opportunity to learn from people with different experiences, backgrounds, and skills. Living at Cook Street also provides Michele the chance to take advantage of the beautiful community. Her love of film makes Michele a huge fan of movie nights at the Southside Mall Theater. She also likes going shopping. When asked about her new home, Michele said, “Living at Cook Street makes me feel proud. I like to be independent.” She enjoys the ability to make her own schedule and do things independently without needing to have her mom guide her. Some of Michele’s favorite times are spent outside talking to housemates and enjoying the freedom to just “hang out” at home.
Like all big changes though, there were some challenges during her transition. Michele struggled with feeling homesick after her move. The Cook Street staff helped Michele overcome these emotions by providing the opportunity for excellent communication between her and Joanne. Whenever Michele was feeling down or lonely, she could count on the Cook Street staff to help her contact her mother, day or night, or even to simply provide her with some emotional support and reassurance. Joanne explained how this effort to stay in touch made the transition much easier for Michele and herself. “The Staff at Cook Street have met all her needs full on and have provided excellent communication between Michele and I. I feel comfortable knowing that they have Michele’s back.”
A Parent’s Perspective
Joanne explained that Michele’s transition to an adult residence involved a lot of mandatory New York State paperwork, but strongly emphasized how Springbrook made it an easy process. She went on to say that she was nervous but also excited for Michele to go out on her own. There were days when Joanne wondered if she could have supported Michele’s needs at home, but she was more eager for Michele to gain her independence. “I want the best for Michele, and I am extremely happy that she has a new home where she can grow and be proud of herself for being independent without ‘having her mom around’.”
“It’s going to be quiet when your child leaves, and there will be days you just want them to be home, but you shouldn’t be afraid to let them leave the nest [home]. The best thing you can do as a parent is to support your child’s dreams and goals and help them the best you can along the way.”
These days when Michele visits her childhood home, she and her mother head to the Adirondack chairs on the back porch overlooking the lake. Now, as they both relax watching the water, they can look out onto Michele’s next chapter together knowing that whatever goals Michele has, or challenges she may face, Springbrook is a lifetime resource—ready to support Michele and her family for as long as they need us.