March 2016  
Joe May:
From a group home to a place of his own

For 11 years, Joe May has lived in a group home, where his days are structured and his choices are limited. He has to rely on others for many aspects of his life.
It's not an ideal environment for Joe, who loves being independent and active in the community - Joe takes part in a bowling league, and he volunteers his time at Meals on Wheels and the Samaritan Center. True independence, Joe says, will come with the keys to his own apartment.
In April, Joe's dream will become a reality when he moves into an apartment in Elmira.
Joe's journey began a year ago when he started working with AIM Independent Living Center's Self-Directed Services, a program designed to give individuals with developmental disabilities more control of their lives.
"Joe has really blossomed in this last year of working with Self-Directed Services," said Mark Swartwood, who has worked with Joe for 11 years.
The program helped Joe realize the dream of his own apartment, and it's helping him prepare for a more independent lifestyle. Recently, Joe began working toward using the bus by himself. He's in the process of learning the timetable, and he hopes to eventually go shopping by himself.
"It makes my job have meaning to know that we are putting the right supports in place for someone to feel safe enough to take a leap of faith and truly live independently in their community," said AIM employee Sabrina Macomber, Joe's case worker.  
What's Joe looking forward to most about living on his own?

"Freedom," Mark said, as Joe's face lights up.
Meet our staff: Noelle Clark

Noelle Clark has worked at AIM Independent Living Center for nearly a year now. She works in our Corning office as a General Advocate. We sat down with her to hear more about what she does.

Q: What is your job here at AIM?
A: I work as a general advocate. I help people with housing, Medicaid, SNAP and food stamp applications. Anything they need help with, I help them. I find them housing and get them transportation for appointments if they need help.
Q: What made you want to work in this field?
A: I used to work for AIM in 2010 for our CDPAS program. I have always loved helping people and seeing the results of them getting what they need. Seeing people who want to achieve goals and help themselves just makes it that much better.
Q: What do you love about your job?
A: What I love about my job is seeing the end result. Seeing that person be independent and not giving up. Seeing them through everything. Letting them know that they are not alone in this and there is help out there for them. It's so worth it.
Q: What are some of the difficulties?
A: Some of the difficulties that I face as an advocate are knowing exactly how to help the consumer. Sometimes they don't always know what they need or where to start. Sometimes they come in and are so overwhelmed, you have to help them find where to begin.
Q: What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of work?
A: Outside of work I'm mostly with my family. My hobbies are four-wheeling and riding around on the RZR.

More donors give to AIM's golf tournament
Twelve more area businesses have donated to AIM's second annual disability-awareness golf tournament!

The tournament is May 1 at the Elmira Country Club. There are still openings for teams and sponsors.

Other News
Several events upcoming
AIM has several upcoming programs and events.

An American Sign Language II course will begin March 9. Our next Youth Social Skills program begins March 15. And in April, we'll host Transition Night for students with disabilities -- and their parents, caregivers and service professionals -- who are preparing to transition from school to the adult world.
Tommy Hilfiger launches adaptive clothing for children with disabilities

Runway of Dreams - an organization devoted to inclusive fashion - has partnered with Tommy Hilfiger to release a line of clothing adapted to fit the needs of children with disabilities. 
Autism therapy to become mandatory benefit for federal workers
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has said that applied behavior analysis, the therapy for children with autism, must be covered under all health plans within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, beginning in 2017.

The decision comes after years of the OPM monitoring benefits linked to early behavioral interventions for children with ASD.
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