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A Family First: Envision’s Host Family Program Expands

“I feel that host family has changed by life and changed others’ lives by caring about us as individuals and not as a “file.” I finally have a job in the community where I work at Mariano’s and I am advocating for myself to get more hours. Mama Yolanda works one on one with me to assist me with budgeting—she helps me function beyond what others thought was my level of capacity. I have the same rights as everyone else and I can work endlessly to make my dreams come true.”

Inside voices. It’s the one thing that Mama Yolanda is always reminding Tiffany about.

Tiffany spent much of her adult life in a bustling group home setting. In contrast, Mama Yolanda’s house is calm and tranquil, with fragrant candles and music playing softly in the background. It’s a place where Tiffany’s voice is heard and respected, regardless of the volume.

Tiffany came to live with Yolanda and her daughter Teanna through Envision’s year-old Host Family Program, which encourages individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to become more self-reliant through the experience of living in the private home of a family. Yolanda first heard of the program in an ad on the radio. With a large house to share and her training as a nurse, she thought it was the perfect opportunity for her and her daughter to make a difference in the life of another. After a period of training and trial visits, Tiffany came to live with them.

Being a part of the Host Family program requires no small amount of adjustment and accommodation. Tiffany receives visits from Envision support staff on a regular basis, has her medication monitored by Yolanda, and experiences the ups and downs typical to any young adult with newfound freedom. Despite the challenges, Yolanda sticks to the goal she set when first joining the program: “My main thing is that Tiffany is independent.”

Above her bed Tiffany has the words “Dream – Imagine – Believe” inscribed on the wall. After years spent sharing rooms with others, she takes solace in this quiet space that is her own. She is home.

Tiffany’s story was featured in our 2016 Annual Report.

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