My Milestones - Irene Jones, Josiah's House
Posted on 12/11/18 in Life Skills by Milestones
Irene Jones is an incredible example of a local parent who turned a personal passion into a service for her community.
"I am the type of person who loves a challenge. When someone says to me that it can't be done, I am determined to make it happen."
In 2008, Jones created a supportive, productive space for individuals like her son Josiah.
"My son Josiah is the reason Josiah's House came about - he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three; he is now 30 years young. He is my drive, my inspiration in moving forward with the vision."
After his diagnosis, Jones found the existing network of resources to not be as beneficial to her family as she hoped. This sprung her into action; it wasn't long until Jones decided to quit her job as an RTA bus driver so she could discharge her son from his group home and dedicate her time to providing the developmental care he needed. While learning how to take care of her son, Jones immersed herself in learning about treatment and the needs of the autism community at large. She earned her certification from the Ohio Dept. of Developmental Disabilities and began to build what is now known as Josiah's House.
"We provide pathways to employment and community integration services to adults with developmental disabilities and autism," Jones says. "At Josiah's House, we assist our friends in the following areas: developing daily living skills (personal hygiene, housekeeping, money management), through vocational rehabilitation (workforce readiness, accessing the community, and self-advocacy) and employment transition (career exploration and on-site training in hospitality). We pride ourselves on providing person-centered services that help our friends grow in attaining their God-given purpose."
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With the New Year here, many of us begin to reflect on the accomplishments we've made and look ahead to establish obtainable goals for the future. At Josiah's House, Jones and her team do this year-round with the individuals who utilize their services.
"Most of our friends come to us with an ISP (individual service plan) already written with identified goals," Jones says. "We help our friends work daily toward achieving those goals and at an annual meeting. As a team, we sit down with our friend, parent/guardian, and service administrator to identify and plan for new goals."
To Jones, her work is immensely personal. The goal-setting strategies used at work follow her home where she supports Josiah in reaching his own unique potential.
"We have set goals for Josiah and I try to keep the same consistency with him at home. Josiah is non-verbal so we use pictures and his ipad to communicate. He also uses gestures to communicate with me and his family."
Throughout her experience with Josiah's House and as a parent to an individual with autism, Jones has identified what she thinks to be the key to setting realistic goals as a family.
"The key is beginning with the individual's interest and identifying strengths," Jones says. "Each of our friends has something that they like to do or desire to learn more about. If possible, as a team, we make plans to turn the likes and desires into realistic goals. Don't be afraid to ask for help, parents/families should not struggle alone or in silence. Our community is rich with resources and services, and help is generally a phone call away. We need each other and must come together to help our loved one reach new milestones and "Come Alive to Purpose."
As far as future plans for Josiah's House, Jones has a clear path ahead for her team and organization.
"In 2019, Josiah's House will be moving forward with purpose," Jones says. "Our annual fashion show will be held in April at the DoubleTree by Hilton, which has become a way to showcase our friends' natural talent while they are adorned in formal attire. It's an exciting event that boosts community integration and celebrates our friends and their families.
"The Friend's Zone on WRSR will continue to be a platform for individuals with autism. Through our weekly programming efforts, we highlight individuals on the spectrum, agencies and businesses, and special care providers who work with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. We invite you to tune in every Saturday from 1pm-2pm. The show is planned and hosted by individuals with autism. In 2019, we hope to grow and offer daily programming hosted by individuals with autism.
"We are also looking to expand our Transitional Workforce Readiness program, offering more opportunities for the friends to explore career options and to connect them with shadowing opportunities at prospective employers.
"Lastly, we are planning for an inaugural autumn jazz concert fundraiser. At Josiah's House, we are not relying on waivers or other government subsidies to keep our doors open; rather, we are looking to increase our partnerships in the community to help with day-to-day operations and special programming. We encourage people to follow us on social media to stay up to date on all of the exciting things that will be happening in the New Year!"
To learn more about Josiah's House please visit www.josiahshouseinc.org or call 216.236.6960. In need of more information about similar resources in your area? Contact the Milestones Helpdesk at 216.464.7600 ext. 200 today.