Paige and Steffan Tatum are having a great time in our Supported Community Living program! They recently sat down to discuss where they came from, their achievements, and how their staff Kiki has inspired their life journeys.
Paige: Steffan and I are twins and have been close our entire lives. In July 2019, we moved in with our Aunt Marla who helped us through a difficult time; she supported us and ensured that we graduated high school. After graduation, she helped us to get motivated about getting our own apartment and we moved in to our very first apartment on March 21, 2021.
I was nervous about moving, but I knew that I needed my own space to grow. Steffan was nervous too, but he wanted to live on his own and gain independence.
There was a lot of planning that had to take place—a lot of responsibility that we hadn’t thought of. We had to find an apartment, set up all our utilities, and furnish the place. It was a lot of fun getting to pick out what we wanted!
Neither of us knew what to expect about having staff to help us. Not long after we moved in, we interviewed with Open Door. Aunt Marla helped us with the interviews, and we decided together that Open Door was the right fit for us.
This was one of the best decisions we made. Over the last year we both have grown more independent and more responsible. We get to answer to ourselves. We have learned how to run a household and how to take turns with chores. We’re a lot more comfortable living in our own space and have even become better friends now.
I have been able to accomplish so much this year with the help of Open Door. Shopping is so fun now! At first, we didn’t grocery shop together, but then our staff Kiki taught us how to make a grocery list and meal plan and now we do our grocery shopping together which is way better. I handle my own finances, but I didn’t know how to budget, so Kiki has been helping me a lot with this.
A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined how great my life would be.
I recently started working a part-time job at At Home. I like working here, the pay is good, and I like earning my own money. The staff at Open Door helped me to open a STABLE account and now I can save up money without it affecting my benefits. They helped me to link it to my checking account and I even got a debit card that I can use.
On March 2, 2022, I passed my driver’s test and got my license! Kiki helped support me all through the process including studying for the exam. Plus, now that I have my STABLE account, I’m going to start saving money to buy my own car.
Recently I really got out of my comfort zone by taking a trip to New York with my cousin. We went to see one of my favorite bands, The Rose. Kiki helped me to mentally prepare to take this trip by boosting my confidence and suggesting new outfits to take on the trip. I also bought a guitar, and I am currently learning how to play chords.
Steffan: Yes, like Paige said we are twins, and we are very close. We’ve learned a lot over the last year about how to live together. We have sibling arguments occasionally, but we always make up! I work part time at TJ Maxx; I really like the job and I am always learning new tasks.
Over the last year, Kiki has helped me learn to cook. My favorite dishes to make are pizza casserole and roasted sweet potatoes. Even Paige says I am a good cook and likes eating what I make!
Kiki is also helping me overcome my fear of dogs. She has introduced me to her dog, Roscoe, and we have become pals. Paige and I are even thinking about getting our own dog someday.
I like staying home playing video games and have purchased two gaming systems over the last year. Kiki and I go shopping and I love to shop at Game Stop. I like going out with Kiki—she’s helped me to become more social. Recently we took a day trip to Cedar Point. I rode the cable car (I was scared at first) but it was a nice experience. We walked around a lot that day and got to see the whole park.
Kiki: All I do is guide them; I am teaching them to be independent. Both Steffan and Paige are coming out of their shells, and it is an honor to help them on their journey.
Steffan: Kiki is more than staff to us. She makes us feel confident because she is supportive and shares her own experiences as a way for us to learn from her. She gives us advice on cleaning, shopping, and budgeting. She always tells us that we can call her anytime with any questions that we have.
Open Door and Kiki are helping us to live our best lives. We don’t know what the next year will bring, but we know that we will have many new experiences thanks to Open Door.
Click here to learn more about our Supported Community Living program!