Nick Thrives During Pandemic Through Support of Michelle P. Waiver

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our lives and go about our day-to-day routines. Thirty-five-year-old Penick “Nick” Clark is dealing with it remarkably well with some adjustments and supports through Michelle P. Waiver, which he has through the developmental and intellectual disabilities program at Seven Counties Services.

Nick, who has a diagnosis of mild intellectual disability, has received supports through the Michelle P. Waiver since 2011. He resides in Louisville with his mother and father and enjoys spending time with his older brother and nephew. Nick is a typical, active, very positive young man who likes to watch basketball, play video games, attend church (remotely for now), work in the community, and cheer on his favorite team – the Louisville Cardinals. He stays active playing basketball and softball, as well as track and field events. If you are lucky, you will catch Nick running a relay race with his family through Special Olympics!

During this State of Emergency, Nick is considered an essential worker at his job working two days a week for Kroger. He helps bag groceries and collect carts as a part-time employee. He has maintained his work throughout the pandemic, in part, because of the support he receives through the Michelle P. Waiver to keep him safe and healthy. Nick must wear gloves and a mask on the job, and he must wash his hands frequently since he is handling carts.

Nick, unfortunately, cannot give a high-five to his coworkers. He is not supposed to hug people. This has been quite a change for everyone, but Nick has transitioned well, thanks to the supports he receives through the Michelle P. Waiver. Because Nick receives an annual budget through Michelle P. Waiver, he, with the help of his legal guardian and representative, has been able to hire individual employees; in fact, these are the people who know him best and help him be more independent in his daily activities.

The two employees, his mother (Ramona) and brother (James), coach him on how to be safe at work and how to interact with others while social distancing, which has allowed him to continue to work and help his community.

Nick has learned to be more independent with Community Living Support (CLS) through the Michelle P. Waiver. Nick’s mother provides support that has helped him become more independent in the home. They work on a variety of independent living skills together like preparing food, planning a weekly budget, maintaining household chores, and enhancing his ability to express himself to others. Nick’s brother has accompanied him out into the community where they worked on shopping, socialization, and communication, as well as money exchange.

At home, Nick’s support during this State of Emergency has shifted somewhat to encourage him to plan and prepare family meals and to do his own laundry. In the past, Nick might help in smaller ways with laundry, but he is now responsible for doing his own clothing loads. Due to COVID-19, the family doesn’t eat out as much as they did so they are preparing food at home more often with Nick’s help. You can see from the photo how much he enjoys doing this!

Nick has shown great flexibility and patience during this difficult time. As his Support Broker, I have admired the way his family has adapted to change and continues to uplift him so he can be the best possible version of himself.

Nick has altered the way he does his job, missed out on Special Olympics, and given up on most community outings during this time. But what you can count on with Nick is that he is still smiling, still working hard, and demonstrating pride in what he does. He makes jokes and keeps a light heart even amidst this most serious and challenging time. Nick is a shining example of how the Michelle P. Waiver supports individuals with disabilities to thrive in their home and in the community.

Learn more about our developmental disabilities services at Seven Counties Services.

Written by Katherine Barnes, Michelle P. Waiver Support Broker, Seven Counties Services

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