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A new and quite special first

First Place–Phoenix is buzzing with 30 new apartment residents and First Place Transition Academy students. A full range of emotions is ever-present, along with the excitement, adrenaline and to-do lists that have us all bustling nearly 24/7.

We’re enjoying the celebration of all kinds of firsts: first in the pool, the fitness room, the Zen room—even their own shower! First friend, bus ride, fireworks show, ice cream social and home-cooked meal. The first time doing laundry, filing an online maintenance request and learning a new recipe in the culinary teaching kitchen. And then there’s the first time in 30 years that a mom and dad slept alone in their home. We also received our first complaint: about the summer heat—and not so easily solved!

Beyond the thrill of it all, I have this new, special feeling. It’s a calmness I haven’t truly experienced since the worry began with Matt’s autism diagnosis 25 years ago. Many factors are likely at play. The opening of First Place–Phoenix and the ability to experience how the property lives and breathes. Confidence in our leadership team and positive early feedback from our ‘firsties,’ the very first residents to call First Place home. The support of family members who love Matt the most, helping us prepare for his transition to his new home this September. Families in similar situations who— together with residents, staff, first responders and more—are building an extraordinarily supportive community.

This unique sense of calm and peace of mind is a first for me and for us as a family.

While I recognize we have much work to do for Matt, our firsties and all our residents and Transition Academy participants, the mother in me is embracing this new and quite special first.

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