Meet Lauren: Despite Disability, A Rich, Independent Life
“Lauren had a tumor when she was five years old that resulted in mental impairment,” says her mother, Inez Allen. Now 41, with short, curly brown hair and a ready smile, Lauren is outgoing, at ease with strangers and has a slightly blurred but quick style of talking.
“Lauren is very bubbly, very outgoing and very independent,” says one of her caregivers, Mattie DeLoach, supportive living program manager at Halom House. Located in Blue Ash, Halom House has been providing 24-hour and respite services to adults with developmental disabilities since 1985.
While Lauren is self-directed and prefers to be busy, she needs help to accomplish those goals. Though Lauren lives independently, with a roommate, Halom House provides 24/7 direct care.
Lauren has been with Halom since she left the Ohio State School for the Blind when she was 22. “I’ve been working with Lauren for seven years now,” says Ms. DeLoach. “A lot of staff have been here for 20 years or better – so they actually grew up with Lauren.”
The bond between the staff and Lauren is a strong one. “Mattie is a great caregiver – a great friend,” says Lauren. “I feel like she is a part of my family.”
Lauren also enjoys the Jewish Education for Every Person (JEEP) program, which helps Jews with special needs access Jewish education. JEEP conducts a weekly Shabbos party at Halom House with crafts, prayer and dinner.
“She likes to stay busy,” said Ms. DeLoach, so Lauren also goes to a low-impact group exercise class geared towards individuals with intellectual disabilities at the Mayerson JCC in Amberley Village. Lauren’s mother Inez says, “The Fitness and Friends program at the J is phenomenal. The interaction with the other young adults is wonderful for her.”
Lauren agrees. “It’s really cool. All my friends, we meet together and have fun. We do different stuff like weights, walk the track, play kickball.”
Lauren’s family appreciates the support. “The fact that Lauren is receiving these services makes me and my daughters feel happy for Lauren, and thrilled that it’s helping her lead a more normal and enriching life. It’s been a wonderful plus for her,” says her mother.
Creating a circle with her arms and hands to underline her point, Lauren says, “We’re one big happy family, grown together.”
Halom House, the JEEP program, and the Mayerson JCC’s Fitness and Friends program are funded in part through the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: We look at the whole picture, taking into account the diverse needs of the entire community and encouraging collaborations that help more people for less money. When we bring organizations and individuals together, big things happen – things that no one of us could do alone.