It’s Monday morning and Sarah makes her commute to work on the train to start another week at the office. After checking emails, Sarah begins her tasks for the day at for JJ’s List, an Evanston non-profit organization. It’s a typical week for her, and it looks like a typical morning for a young professional. However, Sarah’s route to this place in life was far from typical.
A few years ago, Sarah’s daily life looked quite different. She had just graduated from college—a great accomplishment for anyone, but especially for Sarah. “I didn’t think that people with disabilities even had the choice to go to college,” Sarah remembers. “It had never been offered to me as an option.”
Sarah graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, with a degree in sociology, but following graduation, she found herself consumed by anxiety about the uncertainty of life after school. Sarah moved home with her parents, struggled to find a job, and spent most of her days at home worrying about her future. “I was frustrated by the thought that I couldn’t do certain things or get certain jobs because of my disabilities. I worried about my future and my ability to live independently,” Sarah shares. “I felt like I needed support, but I didn’t know where to turn.”
Then, Sarah’s aunt Annabel heard about Center for Independent Futures and encouraged Sarah and her parents to see how we could support Sarah to work toward more independence.
“We left our first meeting with Center for Independent Futures ecstatic with what we heard. Sarah could see the possibility of living independently like she had in college. I saw hope in my daughter’s eyes,” related Holly Armour, Sarah’s mother.
Reenergized, the Armours began our My Full Life™ planning process to help Sarah plan for her future and realize her dreams. “I really felt like I was leading my team in making decisions. My team was there to support me in taking the steps on my own,” Sarah recalls.
Just four months after joining the Center for Independent Futures community, Sarah moved out on her own into her first condo, located in one of our Community Living Option Residences. “I was still nervous and unsure that I could live on my own, but I felt like I had the support of my Life Skills Tutor and resident Community Builders if there was anything I didn’t feel like I could handle on my own,” Sarah remembers.
Moving into her own home was just the first of many more goals achieved for Sarah and her team. Passionate about disability awareness and advocacy, Sarah found meaningful work as the Business Assistant at JJ’s List, a non-profit organization that operates a community-driven website where individuals with disabilities review local businesses and services.
When she’s not at work, Sarah relaxes in her condo, volunteers in the community, and enjoys spending time with friends and family. “Sarah is so smart and strong,” says Annabel. “She has always wanted to move past her fears and have a life of her own—one in which she feels she is contributing in a meaningful way to her community, family, and the world at large. Center for Independent Futures offered her the means to do just that.”
Sarah still has lots of hopes and dreams for her future. “I want to make a larger impact on the world. I want to have a great group of friends, to be able to go anywhere I want to go, and to do everything regardless of my anxiety or disabilities,” she shares.
“Sarah has a drive and passion that I admire,” adds Megan Madigan, Sarah’s Life Skills Tutor. “With a little support, Sarah has accomplished much, and I am confident that she has a lifetime of wonderful milestones in her future.”