The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed challenges and opportunities for people with disability, driving everyone to explore innovative approaches to providing services and promoting inclusion within the community. Keystone Moldova and Keystone Institute India have produced studies on the impact the pandemic and quarantine have had on the marginalization of people with disability and the opportunities to redesign support to better serve people’s needs.
Keystone Human Services provides support and expertise so that everyone can be included and have a valued presence in the community.
Time and again, we have seen people’s lives change as they move from situations of segregation and marginalization to inclusion and self-determination. Everyone benefits when all people have opportunities to fully participate in the community and access their rights.
Our work revolves around supporting people to direct their own lives, to establish a home, find meaningful work, pursue education alongside their peers, develop real relationships, and fill valued roles within the community.
We develop and provide community-based supports for people with disability, provide consultation and technical assistance on inclusive policies and legal frameworks, and advocate for disability rights and inclusive practices.
We do all of this with one goal in mind: to build a better world where everyone belongs.
Meaningful employment is a key pathway to real inclusion and provides people with developmental and psychosocial disability opportunities to lead dignified, full lives. Watch our presentation on inclusive employment and its impact on people’s lives for the 2021 Zero Project Conference. Our Adult Community Autism Program was honored by the Zero Project for our work supporting people to find and maintain competitive jobs.
We continually look for innovative approaches to providing the support each person wants and needs. Using remote support technology, adults live on their own without staff being physically present, a move to “just in time” staffing instead of “just in case” staffing.
The first person to use remote supports at KHS led the meetings to design a system based on her needs and preferences. In partnership with SimplyHome, she and her support staff designed a series of sensors and buttons to alert staff to check to see if she needed assistance. Initially only relying on remote staff at night, she has gained confidence living on her own and is considering increasing the number of hours she’s living independently. Her efforts set the stage for more people to live their lives the way they want to while allowing KHS to work with regulators to modernize existing rules and regulations in this area.
Learn more about our Intellectual Disability Services.
David understands the importance of setting and achieving goals. He has focused the past year on self-improvement and continues to create new goals for himself. David began with physical and mental wellness goals that included working out, meditating, and taking time to read almost every day. His workout regimen includes strength training exercises and running. When he first began his self-improvement journey, he weighed over 250 pounds and could not run more than ten minutes at a time. With continuous commitment to his routine, he has lost over 75 pounds and runs for 45 minutes at a time, clocking in about three miles each run. He’s now an avid runner.
In addition to his personal physical and mental wellness, David sought to find a career. He has worked in various restaurant roles as a dishwasher, music entertainment, and food preparation at a local country club. He found himself gravitating toward being a cook so when he saw the flyer for FRESHstart Kitchen that his job developer just happened to have sitting on his desk, David was immediately interested and with help, submitted his program application. Out of the thirty people who applied, David was one of the seven accepted, and one of three graduates of the inaugural class of FRESHstart Kitchen, a program offered through Chester County Food Bank. FRESHstart staff commented that David displayed enthusiasm toward the culinary arts and a desire personal growth from the very beginning, making him an ideal candidate.
FRESHstart Kitchen’s mission is to assist local people who have limited work experience in the culinary field, modest academic skills, and other barriers to steady employment. FRESH stands for “Focusing Resources on Employment, Self-Sufficiency, and Health.” It’s a full-time, forty hour a week program that runs for 14 weeks. In addition to culinary skills, the program incorporates a self-empowerment portion that teaches necessary job readiness skills.
After graduation, FRESHstart Kitchen placed David at a local fine dining restaurant where he interned for three weeks before being offered a paid position. He currently works about 25 hours a week, is paid competitively for a beginning cook, and feels that there is room for growth. “I see the next step,” David said, “I just need to keep using down time to observe and learn the next station (hot foods).”
While David would one day like to become a Head Chef or Sous Chef, he’s happy with his work hours right now. He wishes to return to school for a degree in liberal arts, enjoys continuing to have time to meditate, read, and workout, and uses time on his days off to teach guitar.
While he has developed friendships with his co-workers and participates in group activities such as bowling outside of the workplace, David identifies that he struggles to make small-talk and has recently started taking steps toward making a goal to improve in this area by learning about sports, weather, and other common topics. As part of his support system with the Adult Community Autism Program, his Job Developer and Behavior Health Specialist will work closely with him to help develop appropriate steps and timelines to meet his goal.
Learn more about our Autism Services.
I have learned that I am more than my past. I am more than my diagnosis. I have learned to accept my disabilities, but I am not defined by them. I have learned I can rely on those around me to help me with things I am afraid to do. KHS’s Mental Health Services helps me see that I am ready to live an independent lifestyle. I have gained the confidence that I might someday start my own business. I can be the owner of a business if I work hard. I can be a church member and a productive member of society. I am the person who I believe myself to be.
I am the person others believe me to be. Most importantly, I am the person that God knows me to be, and all I can be. I’m glad to be the kind of person that people like to be around. With God’s help, I’ve learned to love myself and to love others the way I should. I enjoy when we share our hopes, dreams, and goals with each other. —J.U.
Learn more about our Mental Health Services.