Column: Trinity Services housing in New Lenox to allow adults with disabilities to live independently in a community

Anna Thomas, 58, is delighted with her new, one-bedroom apartment in New Lenox.

“It’s wonderful. I enjoy the community here,” she said. “The staff and management are wonderful. They assist us with things we need.”

Tenants welcomed guests into their homes Thursday as state and local officials gathered with Trinity Services to celebrate the opening of Prairie Trail at The Landings, a 22-unit affordable housing complex serving adults with developmental disabilities.

“It’s a great day for the community,” said Adam Moore, legislative liaison for the Illinois Housing Development Authority. “This services a need that needs to be met throughout the state.”

The two-story complex near Route 30 and Cooper Road allows tenants to live independently while staff assistance, if needed, is just an arm’s reach away.

“I came from a very unhealthy, unstable environment,” tenant Sheri Freeman said. “To be somewhere that’s so supportive and connected — support and connection are two of my most important things in life.”

Tenants have their own kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms and access to communal laundry and recreation areas.

Anna Thomas welcomes a guest into her apartment Thursday at a Trinity Services New Lenox housing complex, Prairie Trail at The Landings. (Ted Slowik / Daily Southtown)

“Trinity provides a plethora of services and gives special needs families so much hope seeing their loved ones continue to prosper and grow,” said Lindsay Scalise, a New Lenox village trustee.

Scalise said the younger of her two sons has Down syndrome.

“Even though he is only 5 years old, I have already pondered what opportunities are out there for him to live independently if that is something he wants to do as an adult,” she said. “He won’t have to travel far. This amazing opportunity is right here in his hometown.”

Independent living housing like Prairie Trail at The Landings could serve as many as 10,000 adults with disabilities throughout Illinois, Trinity said.

“Our goal isn’t just to fit into the community, it’s to add to the community,” said Thane Dykstra, Trinity’s president and CEO.

Trinity serves adults with a range of disabilities, and Prairie Trail is designed for people who are able to live independently.

“This type of residence isn’t for everybody right now,” Dykstra said. “The people who live here have more independent living skills.”

Trinity has been serving people with disabilities since 1950. The nonprofit agency operates about 100 group homes where unrelated adults share a residence. Last year, Trinity served more than 5,500 clients and operated with a $60 million budget, according to its annual report.

In addition to residential services, Trinity teaches life skills to aid in employment, offers counseling and therapy and provides transportation and other services.

Trinity Services formally opens Prairie Trail at The Landings in New Lenox, an apartment complex serving adults with developmental disabilities who want to live independently. (Ted Slowik / Daily Southtown)

“I work for Trinity Services five days a week,” said tenant Tim Gunter, who spoke during a grand opening ceremony for Prairie Trail. Gunter said he cleans buildings and enjoys spending time with his dog, Buster.

“I saved him from the shelter,” Gunter said.

Constance Harrington, who cofounded Trinity’s Technology Enhancing Capabilities Lab, showed me a technology center at Prairie Trail where a staff member working overnights can remotely monitor several group homes at a time. The solution will help address a staffing shortage, she said.

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“This allows us to provide services to people who, at this time, are fairly independent but not quite ready to make the jump to living in their own place yet,” Harrington said.

Group home tenants can contact the overnight monitor with the tap of a call button, she said. A second staff person serving several facilities can respond as needed.

“For a number of years, remote supports have been touted as a potential way for service providers like Trinity to be able to provide services in a unique way,” Harrington said.

Dykstra praised officials in New Lenox and Will County for supporting the agency’s programs and services.

“This was relatively easy to build because they are champions, and they were our advocates to bring this to fruition,” he said.

Ted Slowik is a columnist at the Daily Southtown.

via Chicago Tribune

May 13, 2022 at 06:25PM

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