Three years ago, a group of friends took a major step and were able to live independently for the first time. The best part? They were able to move into their own place, all under one roof. Last week, the seven young men from Western New were the stars of a heartwarming story of friendship, togetherness, and freedom. You may have seen the video via WIVB Buffalo, or read about it in the Buffalo News.
David, Jared, Jeff, Patrick, Craig, William, & Michael have always been close. For years, their families’ hoped that they could get their own place, but with such a large amount of people on the New York State list, it was a pleasant surprise for everyone.
It was a winding journey for the families of the 7 bachelors, which started about seven years ago. Much like any other mid-to-upper 20’s guy, they each wanted to branch out and have their own life, but thoughts of isolation or lack of assistance is the fear for any parent of an individual with a developmental disability. After looking at over 20 properties, everything took a positive turn when they, along with Aspire, were able to meet with state developmental disability officials to seek approval of the “non-certified residence” on Main St. & Eggert Rd.
With each of the guys all standing in each meeting to show state officials that this was their choice, the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities approved the budget, Aspire bought the house, and the bachelor pad was born.
Today the “bachelor pad” offers the guys’ the freedom to live a fulfilling, independent life while providing peace of mind for their families. Despite the fact that each of the guys’ have down syndrome, this household isn’t much different than other male millennials,
“You walk in the house, a couple of guys will be sitting on the couch with their iPads, someone will be in his room listening to music, someone else doing laundry or playing board games,” said Fred Suchman, one of the staff members from ASPIRE of WNY. “It’s a normal house.” Buffalo News
Each of the housemates meet weekly to discuss chores, scheduling, and when the next Bills or Sabres game is on. They frequently watch the games together on their flat screen televisions, talk a little smack over a game of billiards, and they each have their own certain amount of money through their jobs and social security.
Jeffrey’s father had this to say about his son’s lifestyle.
“He’s so independent that he blows me off when I have a barbecue or something, he says, ‘Sorry, I’m busy, Dad.’ ”
Although the house is staffed 24 hours a day by Aspire, the guys live very independent lives. They all have their own jobs and six of them skate for SABAH, another organization that aims to enrich the lives of individuals challenged by physical, cognitive, and/or emotional disabilities. SABAH executive Director Sheila O’Brien told the News how the guys have matured since moving in together.
“I can see over the last two or three years, they take things more seriously and they watch out for each other more. They’ve grown up.”
Living together, living independently, living safely. The seven stars of the story don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Learn more about special needs housing offered at Aspire of WNY.