Three Years, Three Amigos
(from left to right) Daniel, Chiles and Stuart
Stuart, Chiles and Daniel met at Pathways to Independence (PTI) over three years ago and have only become closer over the years. PTI has been helpful in keeping the three in contact. Chiles mentions “I started inviting Stuart and Daniel to small groups because we made a connection” and now they communicate often through text messaging and Facebook.
The Social Focus program allows participants to take the lead in the planning process of their own social events in the community with the guidance of a PTI staff. The participant works with a PTI program staff to invite other participants, choose a place and time, coordinate transportation, budgeting and many other aspects required of getting people together to socialize. The PTI staff meets the participant where they are and steps in where needed.
Stuart recalled a recent outing: “We recently went to Tom’s Bar and Grill and it was a lot of fun! My sister took a picture of the three of us and called us the ‘3 Amigos.'” Daniel and Chiles both remember this outing as very enjoyable. It’s clear that all three of them cherish their friendship and memories. Stuart expresses that his friendship with Daniel and Chiles “makes me feel special.” PTI staff have helped Stuart, Chiles and Daniel find the people they can talk to about their life and things they enjoy. The three of them are proof that at PTI, good food and good friends always means a good time.
When they want to plan a small group, all three of them said that the PTI staff are vital to that process. Chiles says that PTI program manager, Rose, has helped him plan small groups by calling people he suggested to invite and determine the places he’d like to have small groups. He notes that “Rose has helped pick a time that works for everyone.” Stuart has also learned some tips along the way when it comes to planning small groups and has some advice: “I’ve learned that you have to call at least week in advance, instead of at the last minute.”
Stuart, Chiles, and Daniel all say the PTI staff taught them important social skills and help to facilitate their conversations. Daniel comments “the staff has definitely helped initiate and guide conversations.” Chiles says PTI staff have assisted him in his conversation skills on a reactive basis “if something pops up, Pathways has helped me.” The PTI staff coaches Stuart to be more socially appropriate at events which has translated into success in other areas of his life. “The staff has helped me learn to keep my comments to myself” and “some of the rules are you have to be nice to people, respectful of others and everything else will fall in place.”
The three of them agree that PTI has increased their self-advocacy and now they have an easier time talking to people, both inside and outside of PTI. For many, PTI allows its’ participants feel more comfortable in their communities. “I’ve learned to be more open to people and I don’t isolate myself as much.” says Stuart. Daniel testifies that “Pathways has helped me get out of the house more and do more interesting things.” Lastly, Chiles wants us all to know that “Pathways has given me the opportunity to meet people with different interests and backgrounds.”