Friend of mine.
For years, Chandra moved from one living arrangement to another, struggling to find the right support. The 52-year-old has an intellectual/developmental disability and dietary restrictions that affect her digestive system and stress levels, if not treated carefully. After experiencing multiple disappointments, Chandra’s parents, Bill and Gladys, took the leap with Advocates Shared Living in March 2014, and that’s where they found Tata.
A registered CNA, Viergetha “Tata” Felix, 59, has been a caregiver for 20 years, but participating in Shared Living has been the most fulfilling and rewarding for her. “Taking care of people, [it’s] inside of who I am – it makes me happy,” she says. “It’s not a headache for me, it’s not a challenge for me, because it is the work I like to do.”
When Bill and Gladys were looking for a permanent home for Chandra, that’s exactly the type of care–and caregiver–they wanted for their daughter. They were nervous about trying yet another living arrangement, but after much research, they went with their instinct and chose Advocates Shared Living, which matches individuals and caregivers who share a home and live together much like family members. Months later, Bill and Gladys were so comfortable with the new situation and the bond between Chandra and Tata that they were able to enjoy their annual summer vacation without any worry of a crisis.
Chandra and Tata formed an instant bond the day they met, and their love and appreciation for each other is evident to all who spend time with them. Whether it’s a stroll in the park or an errand to the grocery store, Chandra and Tata enjoy each other’s company and everyday life moments together. Even the simplest of moments becomes something to acknowledge and cherish, such as when Chandra offers to share her bag of chips with the woman she calls "friend of mine," or when she rests her head on Tata's shoulder as they sit next to each other on a bench. Chandra also accompanies Tata to church on Saturdays, and the two regularly get dinner with another Shared Living duo, Richard and Melouse.
Thanks to Tata’s care and devotion, Chandra’s mental, physical, and emotional health are noticeably improved. Because Tata prioritizes cooking meals with fresh food and gluten and dairy-free ingredients, Chandra has lost nearly all of her digestive system issues. She also spends her weekdays attending the Gateway Arts program, where she enjoys weaving, making art, and creating jewelry to sell or gift to loved ones.
Advocates’ Shared Living caregivers tend to get as much out of the relationship as the individual getting the care. When challenges arise, Tata knows Advocates is just a phone call away. “Everyone is there for me,” she says. “When I cry, they cry with me.” Whether it’s making it through a tough day, or organizing a celebration or special activity, Tata knows she can call anytime to get the support she and Chandra need.