As we move forward through 2021, we are kicking off a new blog series called Where are They Now?
In 2014, Christian joined Vista’s post-secondary transition program, Discover, to help him develop his skills to live independently. After graduating from the Discover Program in 2018, Christian decided to remain along to the Connecticut shoreline and now receives select services from Vista through our Engage Program. Christian spoke to us about his Vista journey so far.
Christian, a Vista Engage Member living along the Connecticut Shoreline
Where do you live and who do you live with?
I live in my apartment along the shoreline with my roommate. I rent right now, but I would like to own my own home someday.
What are some of the things you wanted for your life that led you to join the Discover Program?
I wanted to have the life I have now: living in my own place, working at a job that I like, and becoming more and more independent.
What are some skills you learned in Discover, and what are you still working on in Engage?
In Discover, I practiced getting up on my own, taking public transportation like the bus and the train, going out into the community, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.
I work with an LSI [Life Skills Instructor] still, but I am proud that I am slowly reducing the numbers of hours of support I receive. I can reduce my hours because I have shown that I am good at cleaning, which includes the bathroom and the kitchen, running the dishwasher, cooking, doing my laundry, and speaking up for myself. One of the things that I continue to demonstrate to my LSI every month is that I understand emergency procedures in my apartment, like what to do in a fire. I plan to keep building my independence and reducing my instruction hours.
Christian holding his newly acquired adult learner's permit
What else are you proud of? How have you surprised yourself?
I just got my adult learner’s permit! I’m planning to get my license and then buy a car. I’ll have to save up money for the down payment, but it’ll be worth it because I’ll have more freedom to be able to drive wherever I want to go.
At my job, I’ve learned how to do all the tasks for my position, and some tasks to help out other teams as well. I used to receive job coaching once a week at work, and I am proud that I was able to phase that out.
What do you do for community involvement, work, volunteering, or job development?
I work at Whelen Engineering in the Shipping and Receiving Department, which I started the year I graduated from Discover in 2018. I’ll have worked there for three years in November. I like the people that I work with and the treatment I get there. I love my coworkers; they’re my favorite thing about working at Whelen.
Initially, I joined job development and had some assessments at other places. Those were to test that I could succeed at a job. I wanted to work with my hands and love cars and technology, so Whelen matches my interests. I get to work with my hands and use the scanner and computer. In my department, we ship out light bars that are used on emergency vehicles. Of course, I like working because of the money I earn, but I also am glad that I am giving back to the community with my work.
I’m happy with the success I’ve had, and I hope to accelerate and keep growing in my career as I develop a more sophisticated skill set. I’m someone who likes to keep growing, as opposed to doing the same thing every day.
Can you tell us about an average day for you? What sorts of things do you do in your free time? Can you talk about your social life?
I do the normal things everyone does in a day—brush your teeth, shower, plan out the week. I can live in my own apartment because I take the time to do things like cook, clean, organize and fold my clothes of course. In my social life, I like chit chatting with friends or meeting new people. I’m good at starting a conversation and expressing myself, so I can make new friends at places like coffee shops. I’m great at making friends and keeping friends, although I like doing a lot of activities by myself—playing video games, listening to music (I have a lot of records), playing guitar, drawing and photography. When I take pictures, they tend to be of nature, like shots of the snow in the trees.
Christian with his record and video game collection holding his guitar for Guitar Hero
(he also plays the real thing!)
What does Vista mean to you?
When I think of Vista, I think of working with good staff members and the support they give me.There are a lot of staff I like working with. I love working with my Program Counselor, Jenny. It is great to see the LSI's [Life Skills Instructors] like Keera and Melissa and the SSC's [Student Support Counselors] like Tom.
Are there any fun facts about yourself that you would like to share?
I love technology and rebuilt my own computer several years ago. It was a restoration project; by restoring it, I brought it more life so I can use it to play classic games that don’t work with Windows 10. I love cars too, which is why I’m excited to get one.
I like to perform; I play guitar and also like acting.
I am big into history and politics.
We hope you enjoyed learning about Christian!
More to come!