Kelly Lopez, who we warmly refer to as KC, is a young woman with Mosaic Down Syndrome who dreamed of leading an independent and active life at Treasure House Phoenix before it ever opened. With concerns of an uncertain future, what started as an encouraging visit to our construction site in 2017 blossomed into KC discovering a supportive community in Treasure House, and a personalized plan for achieving independence, inclusion, and purpose as she powerfully transitioned into adulthood. KC’s Treasure House Story is testament that with proper programming in place, and community and family support, motivated individuals with disabilities can achieve more than they once thought possible and remove stigmas for the entire disability community. This is her Treasure House Story:
When the Lopez family learned that Brenda and Kurt Warner were creating Treasure House Phoenix, a supportive residence for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) inspired by their son, they felt comfort in knowing that there were other families facing similar challenges who were equipped to take action. “Treasure House struck us because it was not going to be the typical group home that is offered for this population after high school,” said Cari, KC’s mother. “Treasure House truly cares about the opportunities offered to these young adults that maybe would not otherwise find their place.”
KC’s grandmother, Debbie, just happened to live adjacent to the developing land and asked if KC would join her on a quick visit to the construction site. When they pulled up to the lot, KC envisioned one of the apartments as her own. “That’s how I knew it was going to be my home,” said KC. From this moment on, the family aspired to be part of the Treasure House family.
Like so many families impacted by disabilities, when KC graduated from high school, her family was uncertain about the future. “After school, the play dates stopped. A lot of the therapy stopped. Friend groups changed, and taking the next step into adulthood was difficult. She did go through a bout of depression,” said Cari. “The other concern was that she will outlive us. What will happen, will she be prepared, is she going to know what to do – all the ‘what ifs’.
The family followed the progress of the development, and once Treasure House opened, KC was regularly invited to participate in resident activities that focused on community integration and creating friendships. KC still yearned to call Treasure House ‘home’ and live independently.
Treasure House’s financial model allows it to scholarship over 50 percent of each resident’s monthly room and board. When the family learned that a one-time opportunity for a supplemental scholarship had become available yielding two-thirds of total tuition being covered, the family was eager to give KC a chance to start life at Treasure House. After touring the grounds, joining residents in activities, and completing a trial stay, KC and her family officially became valued members of the Treasure House family. KC, her parents, grandparents, and aunt and uncle co-sponsor the remaining tuition.
At Treasure House, KC has found a supportive community and a personalized plan for achieving independence, inclusion and purpose while transitioning into adulthood. Her life has changed, and she has accomplished more than she or her family ever thought possible. KC’s priority at Treasure House was securing a job to give her a sense of purpose. With guidance from Brittney, KC’s Life Coach, she built a resume, sourced an employment opportunity, conducted mock interviews, and went into the final interview independently. “I work at United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona – it is a daycare and I am a teacher’s assistant. I just got promoted to be a preschool assistant teacher,” KC said with a beaming smile. “I’m really excited about that.”
Through the active living environment, other goals that KC has met towards independence include managing money with a budget, ordering groceries online, and developing meaningful relationships – things that all people, regardless of ability, desire. “KC has adjusted to other people’s feelings, needs, and wants – it is not just about her,” said Cari. “Treasure House has opened her eyes to understanding that she is part of a community, a group of people that have something in common.” Being surrounded by friends daily at Treasure House has improved KC’s confidence, communication skills, and the way she articulates feelings to her parents, peers, and employer. KC’s sense of belonging at Treasure House is so strong that when her parents ask if she wants to come home for the weekend she often declines. She does not want to miss out on activities with friends and values the personal space that her individual apartment offers. “KC is her own woman now,” said Joe, KC’s father.
KC’s life at Treasure House has positively impacted the entire family. When dreaming about the possibilities for KC, Cari and Joe did not consider how her independence and would transcend their own freedom. “I never thought that we would be empty nesters, or that I would ever have the entire house to myself,” said Cari. From the parent perspective, “Treasure House allows independence for you as an individual, as a couple, and as a family.” Cari and Joe are rediscovering one another, and traveled internationally for the first-time last year.
“In addition to creating and supporting a vibrant life for residents, Treasure House is very committed to ensuring that our parents can experience the same for themselves,” said Lauri Tanner, Treasure House CEO. “Treasure House parents have a sense of relief and peace of mind knowing that their son or daughter is safe and happy, and that they can enjoy their children as adults without being the constant voice for them. Our programming encourages residents to advocate for themselves.
Treasure House provides young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities the same opportunities as all others to lead successful and fulfilling lives by removing stigmas and promoting independent living and personal growth. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their abilities. Your generous contributions support our ability to provide a superior and accessible living experience for residents like KC. Considering making a donation.