Another Success Story - April 8, 2020

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April 8, 2020

Iowa Department of Human Services

Another Success Story

Highlighting the successes of the Iowa Department of Human Services

Brady Werger with his parents

Brady Werger with his parents Tammy and Bill.

Desire, Spirit and Advocacy Lead
to Fulfilling Life, DD Council for Glenwood Man

By Mike Hoenig, Project Director, Conner Training Connection 

When I sat down to interview Brady Werger, 28, of Glenwood, IA, for this story, I'd prepared all the usual questions. "How did you learn about the Money Follows the Person program?" "What activities do you enjoy, and what do you like about living in the community?" Though we would eventually touch on those topics, Werger had something else on his mind.

"Don't you want to know where I came from and how I got here?" he wanted to know. As soon as I said "Yes," we were off and running. The "rest of the story" is in Werger's words.

"I moved to the Glenwood Resource Center (GRC) in 2011. Before that, I lived at a neurorestorative facility for people with brain injury in Carbondale, IL. When I lived there, I had trouble managing my anger. I attacked people, and staff had to call the police twice because they couldn't manage my behaviors. After my second trip to jail, my parents decided it was time to move me back to Iowa. At first, neither Resource Center accepted me. Thanks to my dad's advocacy, I was eventually placed at GRC.

"At first, things weren't much better at GRC. I ran away, attacked staff, and injured myself. Fortunately, a counselor helped me work through a lot of issues which weren't easy to talk about. Being able to discuss them helped me handle my anger management problem."

"As my anger management improved, I ran into another problem. My gait became uneven, and I drug my feet. People thought I was faking it, but I knew it had something to do with my medication. Still, I was down on myself. Once my neurologist adjusted my meds, I began to walk normally again. The teasing went away, and I started getting jobs at GRC."

"I always knew that I wanted to live in the community. When I heard about an opening in a Family Support and Outreach Services waiver house, I spoke up and asked to fill the vacancy. Several GRC staff, including Heath, Patrick and Clint, advocated for me and helped me get ready to move. I started visiting the house once a week, then twice a week. The visits went well, and the move was approved after several months."

"Money Follows the Person (MFP), a Medicaid program which supports people like me to move from large facilities to the community, assisted me along the way. Staff helped me work on my goals, bought my new furniture, and made sure that my move to the community went smoothly."

"It's been a good move for me. I love the freedom of going to choir practice without having to be assessed and get permission like I did when I was living at GRC. I like having people in my life who care about me, other than family and paid staff."

"Living in the community has also given me the confidence to ask for what I need and taught me that people are willing to help. I joined a local church and asked if I could help by playing my guitar. Now, I'm in two praise bands. When our pastor, who was one of my best advocates, left our church, people came up to me and asked how they could help me. I now have 10 or 11 volunteers who take turns driving me to church."

Since this article ran, Werger has lived in a waiver home for over a year and a half, and was appointed by the governor of Iowa to the Developmental Disabilities Council for a three-year term. “I work two jobs at the Glenwood Resource Center. I am active in two church praise bands and volunteer in various activities throughout the community,” says Werger.

Werger explains, “I joined the DD Council to advocate for others like me, and I enjoy learning new things through the Council and being able to help others across the state.”

"Because so many people have helped me, I want to be able to help others through advocacy," Werger says.

Most of this article appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Possibilities in Education and Training, a quarterly publication of the Center for Disabilities and Development, Iowa's University Center for Excellence on Disabilities at University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa.

Brady Werger with the church band

Brady Werger (second from right) with the praise band from Grace United Methodist church in Glenwood.