Who’d like to have 15 First Dates?

…all on one night!heart

It’s hard for young adults with developmental delays to find romance! So, Maddie’s roommates, the awesome Karen and Morgan, have organized two speed dating events to help young people meet others, find new friends and maybe even find love!

  • Monday, October 23 6:30- 9:30 pm
  • Monday, October 30 (LGBTQ event) 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Whistler’s Grille 995 Broadview Ave. Toronto, ON
$10 Registration – Only 30 spots available! These fun activities are co-sponsored by Montage Support Services. Email plennard-white@montagesupport.ca to register
 

 

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Continuing education options

Maddie likes to learn but it’s hard to find suitable options for continuing education. After graduating from the College Vocational programs at George Brown College and Seneca College (now cancelled), Maddie worked on Essential Skills in a full-time, Toronto Board program. But once she started working, she needed a part-time class.

One of Maddie’s passions is Art History. It was reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series that sparked her interest in Greek sculpture and Renaissance painting in particular. Since I’m keen on art too, we attended several classes at the School of Continuing Studies with the delightful Mary Redekop. But after taking all the courses that feature Greek gods, we’ve exhausted our options. Modern art just didn’t cut it.

19059404_10158770742340244_1963848194175970495_nThrough Maddie’s employer, Common Ground Cooperative, she was connected to Frontier College, a national literacy organization. For three years, Maddie took part in the Independent Studies program for adults who have developmental disabilities. Each year, her volunteer tutor chose a theme and presented reading material and writing assignments to help Maddie develop her reading, writing and numeracy skills. Sadly, there is such a demand for the program that Maddie “graduated” in June, and was awarded the Gérard Tardiff award for outstanding achievement in the Independent Studies Program. At graduation, they provided a list of literacy programs.

She’s now having an assessment for the Toronto Public Library’s Adult Literacy Program.  Several branches across the city offer free, one-on-one tutoring in basic reading, writing and math for English-speaking adults 16 years or older. Fingers crossed they can find a time slot and volunteer!

 

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Barista training!

Here’s Alex! Don’t mess with him!

Looking for training opportunities for your son or daughter? Common Ground Cooperative, where Maddie works, is a Made by Mavericks barista training workshop. Created for persons with developmental disabilities, this five-day, 2 hours a day, program introduces small groups of students to the art of coffee preparation. At the end of the class, participants should be able to pull the perfect café style beverage. Participants must be 18 and over, able to stand for 2 hours and able to work in small groups.

Click here to apply! See a Maverick in action!

Not for you? See more options at My Community Hub, an online registration space for classes and programs offered by different developmental service agencies across Ontario.

 

 

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House parent contract

The amazing Morgan has agreed to stay on for another year! We have all agreed to meet to review our house mentor contract and see if any changes are needed. The contract is an agreement between our mentor and the parents of the three residents. It sets our our overall goals for the house, the role of the mentor and outlines our responsibilities for providing compensation and support. As parents, we also have a contract with each other.

Our “Parent-partnership agreement” sets out our responsibilities and commitments to:

  • find, hire and support the house mentor
  • meet regularly to discuss how things are going in the house
  • share expenses (hydro, gas, cable, internet) and administrative duties
  • develop plans to accommodate House Mentor absences.

We have also outlined a process, as yet untested, to follow should any of the residents wish to move out.

At monthly (usually) meetings, we talk about house dynamics, house repair issues, and keep each other informed about the many activities of our daughters. Dropbox has proven to be a fairly effective “filing system” to keep a record of bills and meeting minutes. Every month we have a flurry of electronic bank transfers to pay common bills according to often complex formulas because different parents pay different bills.

Val owes Margaret 1/3 Hydro, plus 1/3 cable minus 1/3 of extra mentor hours. 

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What does a house mentor do?

So much!  The role is a tricky one because our wonderful Morgan is both a housemate and a mentor. She is a housemate in simple ways – being cordial and friendly and interacting with the other residents on a day-to-day basis just as anyone in shared living arrangement would do. But within one short conversation, her housemate role shifts to a mentoring role and then back again.

Maddie with the house schedule!

As a mentor, Morgan is committed to spending 10-12 hours a week providing life-skills mentoring and coaching to the residents. During this time, she helps them plan and cook 3 communal meals a week. She plans and runs a weekly house meeting to discuss issues and shared chores and she keeps an eye on the house to ensure that systems are working smoothly. For example, she checks that chores are done, calendars are updated, laundry schedules are adhered to and communication among housemates is good. She provides guidance and instruction during health or safety issues or emergencies and checks-in (via text messaging) with the residents if they are out at night to be sure they return home safely.

We had initially hoped that 10-12 hours a week would encompass other individual support needs but we have instead decided to contract and pay for those separately. For example, Morgan is helping Maddie to develop a system of budgeting and money management. They have now set up regular meetings to work one-on-one on that.

The three families split the cost of Morgan’s rent and utilities, including internet. In addition, we share the cost of her groceries for the three communal meals. She also earns an hourly rate for any extra contracted mentoring, but sorting out the distinctions between housemate and house mentor is probably her biggest administrative challenge!

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So what happened?

As I said, way back in June, we fired the first House Mentor. Then what to do? We asked Maddie how she felt staying in the house without someone there overnight. She was fine. So were Karen and Krystal. For the rest of the summer, we hired a wonderful young woman to come several times a week to have group meals with the Housemates. We realized that they are all quite independent and capable, but they are not very skilled at finding ways to get together. Having a support person meant that they spent time together, cooking, eating, cleaning up and just socializing.

Meanwhile, we thought long and hard about our job description and decided to amend it somewhat. For round two, we decided not to charge rent for the basement apartment. We also decided to ask the mentor to act as a Housemate and take part in the activities of the entire house, and not just live in the basement apartment and appear for meals.  Finally, in late August, we found the amazing Morgan!

greenwood-girlsimg_20161218_134812

The residents with Morgan and Madeleine (the awesome Landlady)

Morgan has two diplomas–one in Developmental Services and one in Comedy, Performance and Writing! Some of the housemates knew her from Dramaway where she has been teaching for several years. A performer, arts facilitator, and all-round creative person, she moved in with her two cats in September and things are going swimmingly. The cats proved to be a great addition too. That’s another story.

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She’s ready but it’s hard!

Maddie has moved into a shared house with two friends! Her roommates, Karen and Krystal, had been living together for more than a year in a rented apartment with a “House Mentor”. When the lease came to an end, Krystal’s mom bought a house to provide more long-term stability for her daughter. The house was bigger and they invited Maddie to move in with them. Although we’ve been talking about independent living for several years, the invitation felt sudden to all of us.

Maddie's room 2016We liked the model the two families had established, with the help of Lights Coordinator, Laura Starret. They had done the hard work of hashing out systems, budgets and  the responsibilities of the House Mentor. We had many meetings and email conversations with the other parents. Maddie visited the house several times and explored the neighbourhood. She had dinner with Krystal and Karen and talked about what it would be like to live with them.

For us, the House Mentor was key to making a decision but the wonderful young woman who had supported Krystal and Karen had decided not to renew her contract. On the advice of Laura Starret, we decided to take part in interviews for a new mentor as a way of making a more informed decision about the move.

The House Mentor position is a tricky role. Krystal’s mom, Madeleine Greey, has described it beautifully in an article for Canadian Living. Our job ad asked for someone to work approximately 10 hours a week to take part in two to three (no-cost) household meals, coach residents on household chores and errands, oversee safety, conduct household meetings and communicate regularly with the parents in exchange for significantly subsidized rent, unlimited internet, free utilities and laundry. We found someone. All the pieces of the puzzle fell in place and it was time to make a decision.

At a family meeting, we asked Maddie if she was ready to move in. She gave us her standard answer to hard questions, “I don’t know.” Her dad responded by writing, “Yes” and “No” and asked her to circle one. She took the pen. She took a deep breath. She wrote, “I’m ready, but it’s hard.”

She moved in two weeks later. Then we fired the House Mentor….

 

 

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