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.
We 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….