Treasure House is about providing opportunities for young adults with cognitive disabilities to grow, learn and gain independence — all of which resident Kate Schmitzer is already experiencing during her first weeks at Treasure House.
For 30-year-old Kate, this was her first time moving out of her family home, into a space where she has her own room and responsibilities, and now, not only is she taking on her own tasks like cooking and cleaning, she’s serving as an ambassador in the program by assisting Treasure House staff and organizing activities with her Treasure House friends.
“I help Coley, I help Trixie, I help Ty if he needs help and all the staff assistants,” Kate said. “I’m momma hen to then, because I help them all.”
However, despite Kate’s family planning on her moving to Treasure House since the facility’s construction, they knew the transition would present challenges as well as Kate moved into a new chapter of her life.
“Kate knew about this project for these three years and it just didn’t feel real,” said Kate’s mother Wendy Rickert. “We’d talk about it and talk about “Oh, when I live at Treasure House” and that sort of thing, but then when it became time and we had a move in date, things got really scary, not only for us, but for her as well, that now it was really starting to come true. There was a lot of emotions the day we left home but ever since then, once she got here it’s just been amazing.”
Not only has Kate gained a space of her own, she’s gained independence through her ability to care for herself and socialize in her new community of Treasure House residents and staff.
“I miss home more than I thought I would, like I miss my dog, I miss my Mom, I miss my step-dad, but I’ve gained a lot from independence over the last six weeks,” Kate said. “I’ve gained a lot. I’m actually doing laundry for myself, I’m cooking for myself.”
And while the transition brought some fear, Kate and her family know that it’s ultimately brought more joy and opportunity.
“It’s almost like we’ve turned a corner or turned a page where the story was very limited and now it feels like we’ve just walked through a new door and the opportunities are there, just like all our other kids and she’s going to be really happy here,” said Wendy. “There’s going to be so many opportunities for her.”
These are changes all of the residents are experiencing in their journeys to becoming more independent and part of a new community.