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The journey to a good life begins with a single step. A step toward a dream or desire?even if it seems out of reach. Like many families who have a loved one with an intellectual and developmental difference, our journey has been one of starts and stops, and even a few detours along the way.

We are grateful to The Arc Jacksonville for walking alongside us and opening doors to new worlds of opportunity for our son, Evan.

When Evan was in late elementary school, our family embraced personal futures planning. We set a goal. Evan will have an interesting life that includes comfortable/safe housing, appropriate vocational and life skills training, meaningful employment, and enjoyable leisure activities. With this goal planted firmly in our minds, we began to take purposeful steps toward creating a positive future for Evan.

At times the way seemed very unclear. Yet, we kept pushing ahead, driven by the desire to give Evan the best life possible. After high school, Evan spent a year at Helen Keller National Center in New York, preparing for his dream of attending college. Wondering if this was achievable, we learned about The Arc Jacksonville?s On-Campus Transition Program. As we held our breath, Evan applied and to our surprise was accepted! Evan thoroughly enjoyed his two-year college experience.

The next step in Evan?s journey was to further his independence by living at The Arc Jacksonville Village. For the past three years, The Village has been Evan?s home. He has a one-bedroom apartment, and his life now revolves around wonderful friends and engaging activities. With personalized support from The Arc Jacksonville, Evan is living his best life?making decisions for himself and being in control.

Evan has also achieved his dream of work. For the past two years, he has been employed by Sodexo at Mayo Clinic. With the assistance of his Arc Jacksonville job coach, Evan maintains excellent relationships with his supervisors and enjoys the camaraderie of his co-workers. Plus, he loves earning a paycheck!

We are amazed at all of Evan?s accomplishments. Thanks to The Arc Jacksonville, Evan has achieved his goals. He enjoys a good life?filled with great friends, a good job, and a safe home. He said, ?At first I thought there was no way to live here. I thought it would be too hard. I found out I could do it.?

People like Evan need an experienced guide for the journey. The Arc Jacksonville has been there every step of the way. We invite you to join us in giving generously so that people with differences will have the opportunity to realize their goals and to live life to the fullest.

With appreciation,
Don and Kathy Gabriel

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