Four years ago, Jeff Suskin decided he was ready to live on his own and was looking for an independent living arrangement. With the help of his parents, Jeff found a good fit at an integrated living home in Wilmette through JCFS Chicago's residential supports. "I am more confident and independent," says Jeff--and he is always busy. He likes to help clean the house, shovel snow, rake leaves, grill and host parties with his housemates, who regularly invite Jeff's best friend and twin brother, Hart, to join. Jeff bonded with his housemates through his love of collecting classic model cars, nature, wildlife, and even convinced everyone in the house to go fishing at a nearby pond -- his favorite place in the neighborhood. Jeff is good at navigating public transportation on his own, and the bus drivers all know him along his frequented routes to local car shows, medical appointments and his job.
"I am more confident and independent [since coming to JCFS]." Jeff Suskin
Jeff commutes five days a week to work in the janitorial department at a government building in Des Plaines. Well-suited for the job, Jeff has taken on new responsibilities over the last eight months, such as operating a forklift and helping train new hires. Through JCFS Chicago’s family of services, Leticia Cardoso, Assistant Director of JCFS’s Residential Supports, was able to connect Jeff and his family with JVS career and employment specialists. After developing a customized employment plan that integrated his skills, abilities and interests, JVS staff worked to help Jeff secure his current job, and they continue to help him with job coaching.
Although he has made great strides, Jeff continues to work on his organizational and communication skills with guidance from Joey Lenti, a licensed clinical social worker at JCFS. “Jeff and I have been meeting weekly for about 2-1/2 years. Our therapy has targeted self-care, self-awareness, and self-advocacy; social relationships, emotional regulation and communication skills, and independent living and coping skills. Jeff is endearing, persistent, and motivated. I am inspired to reflect on and recognize the admirable progress he has made over time, both in our therapy work and in his daily living, at home, at work, in his family, and at play. I feel privileged to be one small piece of Jeff’s coordinated family of JCFS services,” says Joey.
"One of the benefits of JCFS is that its wide array of services enables staff to coordinate effectively and responsively in providing Jeff with a full range of resources to meet his needs." Howard Suskin
Jeff’s dedicated individual supports provider, Adam Roe, is also an important person in his life. Adam helps to facilitate Jeff’s shopping trips, medical appointments, social activities, transportation, cooking for the house and more. “Since coming to JCFS, Jeff is a different person. He has really opened up, and has become a better communicator, more flexible and accountable. He values the friendships he has made and is a good housemate,” says Adam.
Adam continues, “I really have to credit Leticia for her work. Her attention to detail and her ability to connect our residents and their families to JCFS services and other resources in the broader community is unwavering. She provides excellent training for our staff and works so hard to help our residents improve their lives.” Jeff’s parents, Howard Suskin and Lydia Stux, have also been supportive of his transition to independence and appreciate that everything he needs to succeed is in one place. “One of the benefits of JCFS is that its wide array of services enables staff to coordinate effectively and responsively in providing Jeff with a full range of resources to meet his needs,” says Howard. “The coordination of services and access to resources, both internal and external, has been most valuable for Jeff,” adds Lydia.
From social opportunities, jobs and residential options like community-based group living, we help adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities integrate into the community and improve their quality of life. Our community living model emphasizes the importance of building and sustaining a safe, supportive, and stable home environment with organic community inclusion, choice making, and self-determination.