On Thursday, October 23, individuals representing fifteen organizations came together to discuss the implications and challenges of the Final Rule, CMS guidance, and how to best shore up the Coalition for Community Choice to eliminate barriers for housing. Although the Final Rule is well-intentioned, state transition plans and nuances are difficult to understand, let alone implement. Madison House’s Desiree Kameka presented a virtual tour of DD housing models around the country and will give the presentation again at another housing conference in Delaware on October 31.
I sit in A Place for Us, a conference held at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits. Jill Escher, President of Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area, organized this event to address the confusion and lack of support that many parents face in ensuring that their adult children on the autism spectrum have happy and productive lives. After years, and sometimes decades, of searching for answers, these parents are still fighting for the futures of their adult children. I reflect on the FRED Conference tagline, which reads “Because tomorrow started yesterday” and think about the housing and employment crisis that affects so many adults on the autism spectrum. Many of us want to help but don’t know how.
Madison House’s Desiree Kameka has just completed a stellar presentation before an audience of many worried faces. As she imparts information and highlights housing options, there is one answer that – even for housing experts – remains elusive: What will happen to my child when I can no longer care for him/her? Desiree’s passion and drive to develop, advocate for, and unveil housing solutions will hopefully bring encouragement to some of these concerned parents. There are people who dedicate their lives to addressing issues that impact adults with autism. There are people who care.
Housing needs, like the autism spectrum, are broad. They include the needs of adults with college degrees who may be underemployed and need social support to those who require 24-hour care and medical assistance. There is no one-size-fits-all housing solution – there must be a range of sustainable options. Lifespan planning has a steep learning curve that is everchanging and years long. Trial and error is inevitable, and philosophical differences are rampant. However, gatherings like A Place for Us can shorten the learning curve and ease the concerns of so many parents by nurturing connections, collaborations, and the exchange of information.
I often think of Margaret Mead’s quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Coincidentally, one of the speakers ended her presentation with this quote. Clearly, this national movement for an array of housing choices is gaining momentum. Awareness and action need to be broadened to the greater community as well as to those families who may not have the resources or knowledge to be part of these gatherings. Madison House Autism Foundation is proud to be here. I am humbled to be in the presence of this group and, most importantly, energized and determined. There is much to be done and even more can be done … together.
About the Author:
Adrienne McBride oversees all aspects of the organization. Her focus is overall strategic and operational responsibility for Madison House’s staff, programs, and mission. Raised in Staten Island, NY, Adrienne received her bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University, CT. While her children were young, Adrienne earned a Masters of International Business Management (Marketing).
Adrienne serves as a Board Director for the League of Women Voters-Montgomery County and is active on the Budget and Fundraising Committees. She chairs its Montgomery County Budget Process review committee and is a longtime volunteer for Holy Cross Home Care and Hospice. In her spare time, Adrienne practices yoga, travels, and spends time with her family.