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Tina: A Home of Firsts

JMurtaugh
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Enjoying summer days on Main Street in Hyannis among the surf shops and restaurants, rooting for the home team at a Cape Cod Baseball League game, and frequent visits to the mall is exactly what an active lifestyle in the community looks like for Tina and Advocates’ Shared-Living caregiver, Shannon. After living in an extended respite placement, Tina moved into Shannon’s Cape Cod home. “This place to me is as special as it could be,” says Tina with a smile on her face. Since Tina’s arrival last year, Tina is continuing to learn and grow in the community, and she describes Shannon beyond just a caregiver- he is her cooking, camping, and travel companion.

Shannon started his caregiving journey after working in a group home, and he quickly realized that the Shared Living Program was for him. “The most rewarding thing is to see the happiness,” says Shannon. Flipping through photos of his adventures with the individuals he’s served throughout the years makes him grin.

Shannon recognizes that exploring their Cape Cod community and traveling helps create an independent and fun environment for the individuals he serves to grow and learn.

“I’ve learned a lot of new things here,” tells Tina, as she holds her own My Favorite Recipes cookbook complete with pumpkin bread, lemon loaf, and all of Tina’s favorites. Tina continues to list many “firsts” like learning to put up a tent and build a campsite, how to budget money, and working at a local organic farm.

Travel plays a large role in Shannon and Tina’s lives. Tina has traveled to a lot of new places with Shannon, including a horse farm in New Hampshire, snowmobiling in Minnesota, visiting her brother in Florida, and a trip to Virginia. Shannon’s family embraces Tina and the individuals he supports as their own by including them in family celebrations and vacations.

“Shannon is so dependable, trusting, and help me be more independent,” explains Tina. With Shannon’s caring support, Tina is thriving in the community, traveling to new places, and learning skills that builds her independence.