“I didn’t like the path I was going down. I wasn’t making good choices and I wanted a fresh life and people I could count on.”
Julie is 42 years old and lives with intellectual disabilities. Since she decided to turn her life around, she’s never looked back. That’s where Pine Tree Society’s Home and Community Support Programs came in to help her develop the life skills and confidence she needed to speak up for herself and make better choices.
“I’ve grown a lot,” said Julie. “I hung out with a lot of people who were bad influences. Working with Pine Tree Society has helped me with that. I’m not hanging with a bad group anymore and I’m making better choices.”
Julie struggles with reading, writing and math and worked hard to gain her independence. In 2015, with support from Pine Tree Society, she obtained full guardianship over herself and became her own representative payee.
“I now live independently in my own apartment,” Julie continued. “I do my own laundry, buy my own groceries and pay my own bills. I rely on myself to do things.”
“Her ability to speak up for herself now is just tremendous,” said Shelley Zielinski, director of Adult Support Services at Pine Tree Society. “She created a picture of what she wanted her life to look like, and we supported her along the way. She still needs support, but it’s nowhere near the level when she first came to us.”
“We all have goals. We all have places we want to be in our life and our career,” continued Zielinski. “Our clients tell us what they envision for themselves and we do everything in our power to help them get there. It’s different for every single person and the sky is the limit.”
“Julie needed to trust somebody,” said Teresa Davis, Julie’s direct support professional at Pine Tree Society. “And our relationship is built on trust.”
They talk a lot about choices and Julie knows that Teresa is there for her when she needs to work through a decision. Together, Julie and Teresa have accomplished a lot. From changing apartments when Julie didn’t feel comfortable in her neighborhood to setting goals to live healthier, they work together each step of the way.
“We stay focused on the importance of communication and talking through pros and cons before making a decision,” said Teresa. “And when you make a mistake, you just need to stand up, brush off and begin again. I’m going to be here for you no matter what.”