Connie and Dan and family have lived on the island for the past 8 years. Due to their integration into the community, one might think they have been here for a longer period of time. Connie shared that their initial path to the island was through a professional opportunity and not a longstanding family or personal connection to the community. Connie continues as an arts & features editor at the MV Times, having previously worked at the Vineyard Gazette, the West Tisbury Library, and initially with her husband in their upholstery business. The welcoming Vineyard environment has enabled Dan to quickly and easily feel at home here on the island and build a variety of important local connections.
Since Dan’s completion of the MVRHS transition program four years ago, Connie has worked to build a regular and consistent local routine for him. She accomplished this process in part through a program developed with Massachusetts Department of Disability Services, aiming to create a person-centered approach for the individual (Dan) to thrive in an environment that is familiar to them. Connie initially became familiar with the approach through her involvement in Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change, an organization described as “a statewide, grassroots coalition of individuals with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses and their families…actively organizing families and individuals to use the power of our numbers to effect positive change.”
Dan’s present-day island activities include regular visits to Thimble Farm, which he has enjoyed for many years. In the past, Dan has participated in life enrichment activities with additional organizations including Wheel Happy Bike Shop and Big Dipper Ice Cream. Dan can also often be seen at the YMCA at his cycling class or other activities. He enjoys involvement with one of the Cleaveland House writing groups in West Tisbury, sharing compositions he has typed on his iPad. Dan occasionally has enjoyed attending some of the VIP dances, which Connie notes served as an introduction to the group for them. He also participated in Virginia’s Drama Club for a period of time within the past couple of years.
Dan’s support plan includes the 1:1 services of a support person with regular hours from Monday through Friday. He has worked with several individuals serving in the PCA role and will participate in the initial interview with the candidates by typing questions to ask them. The goal of Dan’s activities has been creating consistent and enriching activities for him. In building his program and securing the personal connections over the last several years, Connie notes Dan has become more comfortable with the social environment of their island life. She especially values that Dan can “be himself” amongst the island community and be accepted and welcomed for it.
Don’t hesitate to say hello to Connie or Dan the next time you see them around the island – they both have valuable stories to tell and experiences to share.