“I am now under my own control.”
When your life is about moving from one restricted living facility to the next it’s hard to envision a future of independence and hope. Seven years ago, that was Kirk’s life. He was a troubled young man with developmental disabilities, and, at one point, things got so bad that he was living in a locked unit at Monroe Developmental Center and he was labeled as “dangerous.”
EPI Helps Kirk Transform His Life
When the Center was closed by New York State in 2013, staff at EPI met Kirk and knew he was someone who could thrive in the right environment with the right help. They welcomed him to Slocum, an EPI residential group home, where he had a smooth transition and developed the skills he needed to address complex challenges and learn to work toward self-control, independence, and self-reliance. And his life began to turn around. The young man who had been verbally aggressive learned to control his emotions and adopted coping strategies.
At Slocum Kirk was one of 10 men who had a history of behavioral issues. The site, with a high ratio of staff to residents, provides enhanced level of supervision. The staff is highly trained to care for and support individuals with the most complex and challenging needs.
Residential services are one of the largest programs at EPI, with 12 homes across Monroe, Wayne & Broome Counties. Staff provide 24/7 support and work with residents on matters like health, safety, nutrition, communication, and behavioral support. Our staff also puts particular focus on finding creative ways for residents to develop socially and engage with the activities and communities of their choice.
After making some significant changes Kirk was the first man to be able to move out of Slocum to a less restrictive environment.
Kirk Creates a Life he Loves
Flash forward to today. Kirk lives in Reeves, EPI’s least restrictive group home. And he is volunteering his time to help others. In fact, he is one of the founders and the first President of EPI’s Self Advocacy group, attends board meetings of the agency, and has been active in regional and statewide advocacy groups. Advocacy is very important to Kirk because he remembers a time before he came to EPI when he felt that his rights were violated and he wants to protect the rights of others.
Kirk also participates in Day Habilitation, another important EPI offering. His current program is WOW, Day Habilitation Without Walls. That means he can customize his program with staff for needs and interests that are unique to him.
At one point Kirk could not be outside his room without a staff member being with him. He could not visit his family without a staff member with him. But today he is able to visit his family on his own, something that is very important to him and his parents “My mom and dad are proud of me and so happy that I can visit them by myself,” said Kirk.
He also enjoys home alone time at Reeves and the ability to make his own schedule. Staff describe him as easy going and comfortable in his own skin. And for the first time in his life, he has his own checking account and is involved in paying his rent and making purchases for himself. Managing his own money is a very important goal for Kirk and he, with the support of his staff, worked hard to increase his financial skills.
Kirk likes to play football, and sometimes stay up late playing video games and sleep in. But he is also excited about working towards getting a job. He spent time volunteering at an animal hospital, so he hopes to work taking care of animals or possibly in a thrift store. Dave Zambito, Reeves house manager, admires Kirk’s passion for human rights and his drive to be part of self-advocacy groups and advocate for others as well. “Kirk looks out for other people now,” said Dave. Kirk is grateful for Dave and for all at EPI for helping him on his journey and is looking forward to what the future holds. “I have settled down a lot,” said Kirk, “I am now under my own control and I’m proud of the change in my attitude.”
Learn More about Developmental Disabilities