As I sit in the living room of their family home, taking in the tempting aroma of freshly baked cake, Parker the family dog hops up on the couch and snuggles in beside me. There are photos of family on the mantle and chit chat about an upcoming wedding, and Cathy is in the middle of it all. She knows all the extended family members of her Associate Home providers by name and they all know her. They are like family to her as she is to them.
This is an Associate Home. An Associate Home is a place where an adult with a developmental disability lives with a host family in their home where they are cared for in a supportive family setting.
Cathy Dickson has been living with Betty and Latchman Balmakoon for almost 10 years now. She first met Betty when she was living in a boarding house as part of an independent living program. As the ladies got to each other they would go out for lunches and regular outings. Rather than Cathy spending weekends and holidays alone, Betty would invite her to their house. Their time together allowed Cathy to get to know Betty’s extended family and Betty to know Cathy’s.
When Cathy was moved to Wauhope group home, where Betty was on staff at the time, her family often thanked Betty for loving Cathy and for taking such good care of her. They knew there was something special about Betty, and they were so grateful. When the idea of an Associate Home was brought up with Cathy’s brother, they would only consider the option if it was with Betty and Latchman.
Cathy enjoys living with the Balmakoon’s and the house pets, Parker the Wonder Dog and Simba the cat. One of the reasons this home is such a good fit is Cathy’s love for travel. Betty says Cathy can be ready in a moment’s notice if there is somewhere to go! She enjoys being spontaneous and remaining active. Some of their most recent trips have been to Connecticut, New York City and a drive through the Poconos.
Cathy remains in contact with her family and visits with them regularly throughout the year. She has two families that love her, which is pretty incredible.
To learn more about Community Living Cambridge’s Associate Home Program, click here.
By: Theresa Haight