Desiree’s Got a New Style
Since they were teenagers, Aida and Daryl Owens had worked at a center for individuals with developmental disabilities. They had come to know and love the residents, their families and fellow staff members. After Daryl retired, he and Aida began a new chapter of their lives. They searched for a way to continue making a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities.
That’s when they found New Jersey MENTOR’s Host Home program. Through the Host Home program, individuals with developmental disabilities are able to live in family homes and receive support from their Host Home providers, who we call Mentors. The Owens saw this as an opportunity to make a difference, and they began their Mentor journey.
A Place Where She Could Be Herself
Desiree was a young woman with developmental disabilities in need of a home where she could thrive. She had very low self-esteem and struggled with making friends, being responsible and managing her own personal care and hygiene.
When Desiree was welcomed into the Owens home and their lives, she had little respect for herself or others, but she quickly started showing signs of improvement with the Owens. She listened more, learned appropriate behaviors and became more confident. Her quick progress inspired the Owens.
Aida and Daryl’s approach was simple: offer Desiree a place to be herself, opportunities to be more independent and constant support and encouragement.
The Owens became role models for Desiree. They made her feel comfortable so she could learn new life skills, such as cooking, cleaning and picking out her own clothes.
Enjoying Her Independence
Today Desiree is a mature and happy young woman who is able to manage her own medication and travel independently in the community. She excels in her day program, where she works part-time and earns her own income. Most importantly, Desiree’s self-esteem has greatly improved, and she is enjoying making new friends and spending time with her Mentor family.