Another Success Story - July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

Iowa Department of Human Services

Another Success Story

Highlighting the successes of the Iowa Department of Human Services

Former Woodward Resident Loving Life

After Community Integration

This story was written by Mike Hoenig and featured in the Summer, 2020 Edition of Possibilities 
in Education and Training, a publication of University of Iowa Health Care Center for Disabilities and Development. DHS shares stories of successful Community Integration to promote the idea that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have access to the least restrictive setting to support high quality of life. 

success story

Eric Mullins lives in a nice home in Waterloo with three Housemates where he is served by REM Iowa. He moved there last October from the Woodward Resource Center (WRC) where he had lived for almost 12 years. “I like it here because I have more freedom and more trust,” explains Eric. “I’m finding lots of fun things to do. My housemate and I have been out fishing and we had a picnic on the back porch. I love grilling out and we just tried some sausage called chorizo which was really good! I also do lots of yard work, and I just joined a bowling league."

Eric was quick to point out that not all of his time in Waterloo is spent on fun and games. “I have lots of job applications out,” Eric proudly explained to me and to Lori Lacarte, his Transition Specialist from Money Follows the Person (MFP), a program which provides one year of support to select Medicaid recipients who are transitioning from residential to community settings. “They (MFP Employment Services Manager SueAnn Morrow and Transition Specialist Jo Schumacher) helped me with my video resume. I sure hope I can get a job soon so I can be more independent!” Like everyone else, Eric’s life has been impacted by COVID-19. “I’m really excited for my day program to open back up on July 1. I go there three days a week and started volunteering with Meals on Wheels and the food bank. I’ve started training other people with disabilities to volunteer, and they look up to me.”

The move to Waterloo from Woodward hasn’t always been easy for Eric. “I had an active life there,” Eric explains. “I was president of the Client Council for five years. When I moved here, I lost all the jobs I had at Woodward. I had to wait a long time for my SSI, and then COVID hit. That caused a lot of stress!” Several factors made the move easier for Eric. “Jo met me when I first moved in,” he said. “She helped me buy furniture and other things for the house to get me settled in. Two of my friends from Woodward moved in too. It was a lot easier to move in with friends than to move in with people I didn’t know. Now I’m making new friends, and everybody treats me with respect.” Eric had some good advice for a friend who will be leaving Woodward soon. “You’ll have your ups and downs,” he told him, “But if you stay positive, things will get easier and you’ll get through it.”

As we began wrapping up the interview, Lori asked Eric for a final word. “People told me I’d never make it on the outside,” he told us. “They talk to me and learn that I’m doing well, feeling less stressed, and making new friends. I’m staying strong!” It’s the opinion of this author that Eric’s inner strength, determination, and outgoing personality will take him far in his quest to reach his goals and enjoy a rich life in the community.