My older sister Debbie and I played under this very tree more than 50 years ago. Our home, our street and the neighbor’s house seemed so much bigger back then. I vividly recall backyard birthday parties, twilight games of hide-and-seek and our parents teaching us to ride the bike with wobbly training wheels.
Like the roots of this tree, home was our anchor—letting us grow, learn and celebrate as it provided comfort and helped us build confidence.
In the same way, First Place–Phoenix represents an anchor to residents through a suite of supports, community life and friendships, as well as connections to jobs, healthcare, lifelong education and more. It’s where people are honing their independent living skills, sharing new experiences and creating collective memories that build lasting relationships and community.
Even at this early stage (First Place opened in early July), several of our residents are experiencing things for the very first time as they chart their own paths to more independent, fulfilling lives in their own homes. Here’s what Jenny’s mom reports: First Place has touched our lives, put music in our hearts and tears of joy in our eyes. I spoke with Jenny and she told me she has a job. We are so excited and thrilled! She has learned so much and her independence is soaring. Her own apartment, social activities, friends, cooking, work training and a job…it’s what parents of children with autism dream of. And now, it’s a reality. We are jumping for joy here in New Jersey!”
Riding that bike wasn’t easy at first, even with the training wheels. We fell off, skinned our knees and sought comfort under the shade of that tree before being coaxed to get back on. And then we rode off, more competent and confident, ready to explore again. Go, Jenny, go!