When Evan was in elementary school, his parents wrote a life goal for their son, who was born with an unnamed genetic syndrome and multiple differences.
“We set a goal that Evan would have an interesting life that included comfortable/safe housing, appropriate vocational and life skills training, meaningful employment and enjoyable leisure skills,” his mother, Kathy Gabriel, recalls.
Now 30 years old, Evan has achieved all of these goals and more through the programs and support services of The Arc Jacksonville. After participating in The Arc Jacksonville’s Summer LIFE Program, Evan attended the University of North Florida through the On Campus Transition Program. “He loved being a college student—riding the bus to campus, attending classes, going to social events and learning independence,” Kathy says.
Today, Evan works for Sodexo at the Mayo Clinic with support from The Arc Jacksonville’s job coach, returning home each day to The Arc Jacksonville Village, where he lives in his own apartment and enjoys socializing with his friends.
“As parents of a child with differing abilities, we thought our son would live with us forever,” stepfather Don Gabriel says. “The Arc Jacksonville has enabled Evan to achieve his dream of living as an independent adult. He is free to make his own decisions and live a meaningful life without limits.”