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Chapel Haven Changes Lives is a new weekly feature that shines a spotlight on our wonderful students and community members as they talk about how independent living has changed their lives.

Today, we’re talking to Shawn F.

Shawn F. loves her life at Chapel Haven! Here she is at her volunteer job for the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.

Shawn came to Chapel Haven 20 years ago from her hometown of Westchester, NY, and she admits, it was a rough start.

“I thought my parents were trying to get rid of me when I was told that I was coming to Chapel Haven,” she admits. Like many families, Shawn’s parents chose Chapel Haven as a place to help their daughter learn to live independently, and to enjoy a robust adult community.

“Now,  I know that it was a good thing coming here because I love it. I am more independent and for that I am thankful of my parents,” she says.

Shawn enjoys the classes that Chapel Haven offers, but the best thing that has happened for her is gaining friends. Meeting different people and hanging out with college kids is what is most memorable throughout her years at Chapel Haven. Shawn especially enjoys Best Buddies, a program that pairs students from Southern Connecticut State University with adults at Chapel Haven. She has enjoyed a college-aged mentor for years.

Shawn volunteers once a week at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, which keeps her active and independent. “I love it, it’s really cool. People come in and we make sandwiches for them that they take home and have for lunch the next day.” Shawn’s role at the soup kitchen is rolling silverware.

Shawn went through Chapel Haven’s REACH program to learn how to have an independent life. She graduated from REACH and now lives in her own apartment within walking distance of the campus and receives services from Chapel Haven including classes, weekend recreation, etc.

Today, Shawn is a pro at taking public transportation (bus and cab) when she wants to go out for fun, volunteering or to see her friends. Her top three favorite destinations are: the mall, the movies and Olive Garden.

She has a blast hanging out with friends and having pot luck dinners with other adults within Chapel Haven.

Congrats to Shawn for being our first feature in Chapel Haven Changes Lives!

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Written by Faith Smith and Mitsouki Garvey-Sanchez