|An art project we did at Ben's group home this summer.|
Ben moved into an Easter Seals group home on September 12, 2022. Today, we celebrate one year with him not just living there, but thriving. Ben's formed friendships with his housemates and the staff who work there.
The move to this Easter Seals group home was his second time moving out of our house. In 2021, Ben moved to Greensboro, 90 minutes from our home in Charlotte, North Carolina. He'd been living in an AFL - alternative family living - situation through a different agency. It didn't work out. For more details, read here.
|The day program has a living room for activities and relaxing.|
Ben moved home for six months while we searched for another living situation for him. During this time, we found an incredible day program. I happened to see a post on Facebook with photos of happy individuals involved in all sorts of community activities. I connected with the staff, and Ben started in June 2022.
|Swimming at the YMCA|
We made the decision to take Ben out of high school and let him continue full-time at the day program. We've been thrilled with the decision. Ben rides the Special Transportation Bus, a program through the City of Charlotte, to and from the day program. He's out in the community most days: bowling alley, library, museums, parks, pools, recreation centers, shopping trips and much more.
|Ben's room at the group home.|
In May 2022, we heard there may be space in an Easter Seals group home. It still took four months to work out the details. Various challenges had to be worked out, and it was not without stress. But Ben is in the right place. He has his own room in a six-bedroom home in a beautiful neighborhood in Charlotte. He's 20 minutes from our house, and we see him many times a week.
The best part about Ben's living situation is his housemates – five men who have welcomed him into their home. They have a tight community, and the guys look out for Ben. They all know the theme song to Bob the Builder. He's got nicknames like Benny Wenny and Sound Recording Studio (a nod to the loud noises Ben makes). Ben likes to hang out in the living room so he can see his buddies. They've introduced him to a few new shows too.
|Ben likes to relax in his Chill Chair in his room.|
Ryan and I see Ben regularly – there are no restrictions on when and how often we visit. We feel welcomed by the staff every time we stop by. The staff and certain residents give us a report on how Ben has been doing and what new antics he's tried with them. The staff love these guys and treat them with respect and kindness.
|We made tie-dyed t-shirts with the guys.|
The year hasn't been without problems or stress, but we've worked together with Easter Seals and the day program to find solutions. Ben has a strong team of people who love and support him.