For Levi, CCHI means giving back to a community who has already given him so much. As a student, he enjoyed participating in peer buddy programs and soon realized that he wasn’t only receiving but also how much he was giving to those who volunteered -teaching them about patience, inclusion and diversity - all while having fun! Levi learned from these experiences how much we all depend on each other and began volunteering at nursing homes and food pantries so he too could be a part of the giving circle. Because Levi knows first hand what it means to depend on others for support, he is especially proud when he can help out in any way, big or small. Our community has been there for him over the years and CCHI gives Levi an opportunity to give back through volunteer experiences that allow him to stay connected and be an integral part of his neighborhood. The photo we are sharing is of Levi and his brother volunteering with CCHI at the Highwood Food Bank.
I knew immediately after Henry arrived in this world that life itself was an onerous environment for him. It wasn’t until he was two years old that my fears were confirmed by his neurologist with the ASD label. Along the way, Intellectually Disabled, OCD, ADD, Epilepsy and Anxiety Disorder have been added to his chart. Every night when Henry goes to bed is painful. I am exhausted but cannot sleep. I lie there thinking, “who will take care of my vulnerable man-child when I’m gone?”. Collaborative Community Housing Initiative has given me hope in regard to this question. I once thought that only neuro-typical adults had the opportunity to move back to their home communities to live among friends and family. CCHI has paved the way for my Henry to have the same chance. I no longer stay awake worrying about Henry spending his life in an institution, group home, or other mis-“placement”. Henry knows his way around his home-town and is comfortable here. The community knows Henry and keeps an eye out for him. The founding parents of CCHI had the same fears and aspirations as me and found a solution. I am so grateful to have found them.
CCHI is a great organization that will help fill a need for many individuals who are seeking inclusive, affordable and appropriately supported housing in their communities. Our son, Josh, is eager to move out of our home and become more independent. He’s ready and willing but he would need support to be successful. Current options in Illinois are primarily 24/7 support in a group home setting or independent living with a support worker visiting several hours a week. Josh, like so many of his peers, needs more than a few hours of support but less than around the clock supervision. And, he wants to live in a greater community that seeks to include him in all aspects of his life...work, recreation, religious participation, etc. Our family is excited to work with the other CCHI families to bring about more options for our sons and daughters so they can be as independent as possible while pursuing their individual dreams.
What does CCHI means to our family?
For many years, looking forward to Allison’s future filled me with anxiety, not knowing how or if she would ever be able to live independently. The housing options looked so bleak, apartments in developments that were far more restrictive than what she needs and far away from her home, friends, job and community. Others were without the supports and services that would allow her to live safely and independently. It was not the life that we envisioned for Allison and certainly not the one she envisioned for herself. Allison wants what her siblings and other peers have, a life with friends, work, fun and an opportunity to be part of the community.
Meeting with the founders of CCHI gave me such hope! I never dared to dream that there could be an inclusive development built in the community that will allow Allison and others like her to live independently and safely.
We feel so fortunate to be part of this innovative organization! The steps towards independence do not seem so steep anymore and we are looking forward the day when Allison can move into her own apartment.
CCHI is the future for our family and many others like us. We want to be a part of something greater than ourselves. We think a neighborhood that depends on one another, cares for each other and offers stability, socialization and most importantly a home-that is what is needed in our community. Zach wants to live with friends, he would like to eat when he wants-what he wants, not what his parents want. He wants to go places that he chooses, not the places his parents choose. Zach wants his own life-not his parents life! No 26 year old wants to spend all their time with their parents, they want to be with friends. CCHI means that Zach can live with friends, in his community with people he knows. He will still have help with cooking, making plans, getting where he needs to go and living his life to the fullest. He wants to live as a "grown up"-and he deserves the right to live however he wants, wherever he wants.
The biggest concern my wife and I have had is what will happen to our son Daniel and where will he live as an adult. A few years ago we joined a dozen other families of parents of young adults with disabilities to address this concern. Under the leadership and vision of Laurie Williams, The Collabrative Community Housing Initiative (CCHI) was formed. Now with 35 member families our answer is in sight. With the hard work of many member families CCHI is preparing to build it’s first apartment building. A local building that will be diverse, made up of our kids and working members of the community. A safe, welcoming place to live, socialize and grow within the community. Our son Daniel is excited about having his own apartment, but a little hesitant. When asked he says he needs to get used to it. Daniel is outgoing and social and looks forward to living with friends, but also knows he needs support. We have assured him that we or someone he will know and trust will always be available to help him with any challenges or problems he may encounter. CCHI offers Daniel a wonderful opportunity to begin happy, secure and independent living in our neighborhood.
We are the proud parents of 3 children—Michael, Laura and Joanna. Our dear Laura, pictured here with us, is 44. She has cerebral palsy. She lives in a condo in Wilmette—a Shared Living CILA--with her roommate, Katy Washington, and a live-in caregiver, Amanda Williams, employed by Individual Advocacy Group. Although we are very happy with her living arrangement, If CCHI had existed when she moved in there in 1998, she would have been the first in line to move into their first inclusive apartment building!-Ed and Ellen McManus
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Every parent of a child with a disability has a major concern as to what will happen to my child in the future? Where and how will they live as adults? CCHI, a parent driven organization, answers those questions and concerns. CCHI is working to build mixed housing in local communities. A safe, supported, welcoming place to live with other local residents. Hopefully, one day, every community will have a CCHI.
CCHI Parents: Jerry & Bill