SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 26, 2013

Focused on independence

Program helps young adults with intellectual disabilities

(Continued)

Angelina, a nursing student at Fitchburg State University, said that while some young adults with disabilities do live at home and get outside services, this option didn’t make sense for her sister.

“She went to this school that was two hours away, that taught her all these independence skills, and it taught her how to be an advocate for herself, and it taught her how to strive for more,” Angelina said.

Korkaris said the LITEhouse program takes care of the worry about what might happen when she gets older and can no longer care for her daughter.

“It gives them that extra bit of support,” Angelina said.

What kind of support does Christina need?

“She might forget to turn off the oven when she’s cooking,” Angelina said.

“An ambulance might go by in the middle of the night and scare her,” Korkaris said.

With no houses to rent downtown, Korkaris’ father, Nikolaos, mortgaged his home to buy the rundown, 1880s house in July. He then allowed the program, which pays him rent, to make changes to the building.

The women said that creating the program from scratch was daunting, but they got help. Angelina’s friends helped clean the walls or do other odd jobs to fix the place up. An electrician donated his time to bring the home’s wiring up to code.

Some inside walls were moved to create bedrooms and a better flow to the home. And, because the program does not have anyone who is in a wheelchair, and it’s not equipped to do so, it did not have to build a ramp. The renovations were done according to state Department of Developmental Services regulations, Korkaris said.

While it is not a state program, residents pay rent through funding they get through DDS or other services or benefits. Families may also pay privately, but Angelina said they try to avoid that because of the expense to families, though she said the program is reasonably priced.

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