Christine Wang – LSA Board Member & Sibling of LSA Resident
After several years of visiting community care facilities looking for housing options for my younger brother, Didi, I discovered LSA’s innovative housing model for adults with developmental disabilities at a conference where LSA’s Executive Director, Dana Hooper, was presenting. By providing a high standard of care and support for adults with developmental disabilities, I saw residents thriving in their homes and communities. Residents are engaged in various activities, are empowered to be independent, and embraced by staff who create a safe and supportive home environment for all the residents at every LSA home. When I had the opportunity to take a tour of a few LSA homes, I experienced the different spaces that were intentionally and thoughtfully designed to respect the individual needs of its residents and assist the staff in supporting and meeting the needs of their residents. After learning more about the vision of LSA and immersing myself in the culture at every level of the organization, I realized that I had finally found what I was looking for, an organization that could share and possibly support my family’s values and wishes for my brother with Down syndrome to live a full and rich life.
During most of his life, my dad was my brother’s best friend and the person my brother looked to for comfort, emotional support, and connection. When they both ventured out of the house together on regular outings, one would see them walking hand in hand wherever they were. When my dad sat in the study room to read the daily newspaper, my brother would imitate him by reading the photos in the sports section or by looking through the advertisements and images in the paper. Working as a team with my dad, my mom fulfilled the duties of maintaining a household and bringing the family together during shared meals while my dad provided the entertainment and engaged in evening rituals like assisting my brother with bathing, brushing his teeth, and tucking him into bed every night. Because my father was a man of few words, their relationship was more felt and seen than heard. Just being in their presence, one would experience the outpouring of unconditional love, adoration, and respect in the space between them. When my friends came over, it was the first thing they noticed. While my mom was becoming weary in her 70’s taking care of my brother’s continuing needs year after year, she said, “I wish I could live forever so I can take care of Didi.” Neither of my parents believed anyone could love and take care of my brother better than them.
When Didi left my parent’s home for the first time at age 42 and had the opportunity to move into LSA’s Ramita home in 2017, the home soon became an extension of our family’s home. Facilitated by my dad’s unexpected passing several years earlier, my brother’s transition from the family home to living in a group home was surprisingly smooth. It was a sign that Didi was simply ready. Being his older sister and “a parent sibling,” the experience demonstrated the resilience of the human spirit and the human need for freedom and independence. Given the room to become his own person as an adult living at Ramita, my brother’s experience of life and relationships has deepened and expanded to include the family of staff and boys in his group home. He goes bowling and plays baseball with his housemates, he goes fishing with his favorite staff member, and he loves going to the movies with the boys. Celebrating his fifth year at Ramita this year, Didi attends LSA’s day program and participates in a full rotation of activities and sports with his housemates and the support of the Ramita staff. Instead of my parents, it is now the Ramita family of residents and staff that my brother leans on for warmth, connection, and encouragement. Since joining the board in 2012, LSA has not only met my expectations, wishes, and goals for supported living, LSA continues to raise the standards and challenge what is possible in the vision of a supported living home, LSA makes a difference for adults with developmental disabilities one home at a time.
I sincerely appreciate your support of LSA and your participation in our 2022 Run Home. Join me on September 18 as we make a difference in the lives of adults with developmental disabilities.