Moving out on your own for the first time is an exciting adventure, and moving in the midst of a global pandemic is an adventure filled with unexpected challenges. COVID-19 has affected millions of lives across our nation. Despite all the challenges, through the turmoil and chaos that was 2020, the old adage remains true, “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.”

Southern Tier Connect members Will Sutton and Deidre Herr personify courage.

Will and Deidre have each dreamed of living on their own. So they worked with STC to put the proper steps in place to achieve that goal. They plan on moving into their own place in the Cherry Valley area this spring. Pandemic or not, Will and Deidre would not be deterred. Will shared,” I would like to have more control of where I live.”

The home he and Deidre will be sharing was purchased by Will’s mother, Lorraine. Will and Deidre will use both Southern Tier Connect and Springbrook’s Self-Directed Services as their means of support, through which they will hire a live-in-caregiver (LIC), and Community Habilitation staff.

Will is an independent free thinker who loves to sing and play the piano. He is legally blind, but that has not hindered his determination. He lives at Springbrook’s Walnut Street Community Home in Oneonta, NY. Will has several friends that live nearby whom he enjoys spending time with (including jamming with a few!). Ask Deidre what she likes to do and she’ll proudly tell you about her many volunteer and community commitments. “I volunteer at two local schools, the local Root Farm, and I am part of the local volunteer fire dept. I like getting out in the community and going to church.” Deidre is also legally blind and manages a seizure disorder. She currently lives with her parents, Amy and Fred.

The Covid-19 pandemic dramatically slowed the approval process for environmental modifications to Will and Deidre’s new home. Modifications include, among other things, a bathroom rehab and a wheelchair ramp addition. Although slowed, they were never deterred. Will and Deidre will be supported with the following technology in their new home – Google Nest, Alexa Show and a mounted IPad. They will be using the rent subsidy from their SDS budget to help pay for rent and ISS Transition Funds to furnish the home. Will looks forward to going on dates with Deidre, being a more active member of his local community, being able to watch what he wants when he wants, and jamming with his friend Carl in Cherry Valley. Deidre looks forward to more space, more control, and the increased time she will be able to spend with Will.

Many lives have been negatively impacted in the wake of this global pandemic. With clarity and courage, and a little dreaming, Will and Deidre have carved out a little piece of heaven we like to call home. We should all be so lucky.

Will and Deidre pose in their house together

Above, Southern Tier Connect members Will Sutton and Deidre Herr pose together in their home.