Douglas is going on his 3rd year as an employee at one of Cincinnati’s most popular local establishments, Eli’s BBQ. He also has been working at Fireside Pizza for the past 2 years. Both restaurants are in/around the neighborhood of Walnut Hills, and that’s where Douglas lives.
When Douglas comes home from work – you can see the joy in the face, and the connection that has there now. He just glows,” Paula, Douglas’ mom.
Employment is an important part of life in America. “What do you do?” is one of the most common questions people ask when getting to know you. So when Douglas can answer back, “Eli’s and Fireside Pizza,” you can imagine how working this raises his status in any conversation.
Here’s a glimpse of what Douglas’ first year of employment looked like…
Awesome, right? But… a job is still a job. A paycheck is nice, but relationships are what make life truly rich. When we can have both a paycheck and a social life, life finds its sweet spot. So after our Connectors at Starfire helped Douglas get settled in his new paid roles, the further step was discovering relationships.
Douglas’ real, true interest “since he was tiny” is in movies. He might not share a lot in conversation, but when the topic of movies comes up, Douglas has a lot to add. So his Connector began reaching out to neighbors who like movies too. Now, several of his neighbors meet up bi-monthly (sometimes weekly) for movie nights (they all share a particular love for the Harry Potter series).
Slowly, these connections have started to show themselves in a “real community” way. This year, Walnut Hills held their annual StreetFest and as Douglas was walking there from his house – he bumped into Anne and Andrew (movie night friends) who were on their way there also. Immediately, they fell into conversation about movies as they carried on their way together to the festival. The simplest moments, like this one, can make all the difference in combating isolation so many people with developmental disabilities feel.
“It’s so hard these days to find real community – and here was real community right in our neighborhood!” his mother expressed. “To have these social connections – and to have that feeling that what he’s communicating is being received and understood – he’s really part of a group.”
Before Starfire, Douglas’ life looked a bit different, and we’re so happy he and his family have joined us on this journey to build community around his passions and in his local neighborhood.
Check out Landlocked Social House, Anne and Andrew’s Craft Coffee + Beer start-up on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/599834529/about