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Andrew A. came to Chapel Haven in 1988 from New York City and is enjoying an independent life.

Andrew A. loves his life at Chapel Haven.

Age 61, Andrew came here in 1977 from his hometown of New York City and admits he knew very little about what it took to live independently or to gain employment.

“I knew nothing about life skills until I started at Chapel Haven,” Andrew says.

After spending three years in Chapel Haven’s REACH program, where he received 24-hour staff support and experienced a sequenced curriculum teaching every aspect of independent living, Andrew graduated and moved into Chapel Haven’s Supported Living community. He reports a very fulfilling life today.

He works three days a week at the Yale Child Study Center doing data entry in a paid job, and volunteers on Fridays at New Haven City Hall with Michelle Duprey, Director of the Department of Services for Persons with Disabilities. Andrew has his own apartment in Westville, can cook and travel independently, has his driver’s license and enjoys a wide circle of friends and activities. Andrew also serves as a Chapel Haven Ambassador to the Admissions Office and helps out with Chapel Haven open houses.

“I gained my independence, learning to live on my own,” he said.

A big goal for Andrew when he first came to Chapel Haven was getting a job. Today, he says he realized that obtaining employment would have been impossible without Chapel Haven’s vocational curriculum.  “Through education classes,I learned the skills that were required to obtain a job,” he said.

Rendering of new courtyard

One thing that really excites Andrew right now is Chapel Haven’s campus expansion. Chapel Haven has broken ground on a major campus expansion that will include a new REACH building, a state-of-the-art facility for aging adults and new welcome center.

“I am passionate about the future of Chapel Haven and look forward to seeing this program become and look like a college campus,” he said.

Asked about his favorite things at Chapel Haven, he cites the organized recreation trips on the weekends, Chapel Haven’s extensive involvement in Special Olympics, the enrichment classes offered, and the Jewish student organization facilitated by Jewish Family Services that meets every other week at Chapel Haven.

He also has enjoyed having a college-aged mentor through the Best Buddies Chapter of Southern CT State University.

Andy loves adventure movies and getting together with other friends at Chapel Haven to hang out.

The dream of independence was always in his vision but he explains it would not have happened without Chapel Haven. In Andrew’s spare time he sketches, and is a part of an art group in New York where they meet periodically to sketch and paint. He states that his future is Chapel Haven. “I want to stay here forever.”

By Mitsouki Garvey Sanchez and Faith Smith