Brave, Bold Kimber
Kimber Marchesi came to Chapel Haven Schleifer Center from her hometown of Darien, CT in 2013. She learned how to live independently while enrolled residentially in Chapel Haven’s REACH program, graduated and now lives in her own apartment in the community, accessing Chapel Haven’s Supported Living services. She publishes her own blog and wrote this column in early February 2021. You can view the blog here.
I came to Chapel Haven in 2013 right when I got out of high school. I was 18 and was scared to go to a new school where I had to meet new friends and learn life skills.
Before I came to Chapel Haven, I had no clue as to what life skills were. As I progressed in Chapel Haven, I learned many life skills including laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
I am very grateful for Chapel Haven and have continued to use the life skills in my apartment! After I graduated from the first program Chapel Haven offers, which is called REACH, I moved into the next program called BRIDGE, where the school introduces apartment living to folks that still need a little support from the support coordinators.
After a year of BRIDGE, I moved off campus to the next level which is called COMMUNITY. I’ve lived in the community now for four years, starting with a roommate in an apartment, and now I currently have my own apartment and love it!
I work at an art studio run by Chapel Haven Schleifer Center called UArts where the artisans are community members. I work Mondays and Wednesdays, and often pick up additional shifts. I so enjoy working there! I am very fortunate to be a part of an amazing community where I have friends. I live in a great city filled with lots of things to do, and have an awesome job!
Mastering Independence at Chapel Haven
In this article I will be writing about what Chapel Haven is, as well as how it helped me along the way with my diagnosis.
Chapel Haven is an independent living facility serving adults with various disabilities. At one point, I was diagnosed with Autism along with an anxiety condition. As soon as we got the news, my family and I began searching through programs that would best fit me and help me get on my way to thrive.
Chapel Haven is known as a state-of-the art program throughout the world, as they accept clients and students from throughout the world. Chapel Haven teaches all the aspects of life, such as hygiene, cooking, cleaning, shopping, traveling, how to manage money, as well as managing living with a roommate.
When I first started my journey at Chapel Haven, I was a bit anxiety-filled about what my first time being away from home would be like. In my first few months, it took me awhile to adjust. From time to time I would be tempted to return home. But I continued to fight through it and manage it day by day.
When I do go home for a visit, it usually takes 8 hours from where I live in Pennsylvania to travel to New Haven/Chapel Haven. I usually travel by car in which my parents drive me. I currently do not own a vehicle and I have not mastered the subway system. I will be traveling by train in the near future.
I’ve got to give major applause to Chapel Haven for helping me to overcome the difficulties I was trying to fix, in many different areas of my life. There is a new motto in my book: there is no such thing as you can’t. It all comes down to motivation, willingness, as well as dedication.
I have been a part of the program since 2013. One thing I’ve got to say is, that the whole faculty of Chapel Haven does great work and cares about every student that they serve. When I first started, I was in a huge holding pattern on navigating my life in the right direction. Thankfully I was able to get the right support and stamina that got me through the barrier that I was navigating through and it was not easy. I can kind of compare it to steering a ship – you are steering the ship, so you need to have support and teamwork. Along the way, I came across some great friends and teachers.
Chapel Haven’s location is in the Westville, New Haven area. The location is great. It has a city/suburban atmosphere, and it is conveniently located between New York City and Boston. If you ever want a big city metropolitan vibe, New Haven is located between those two places and is just an hour drive.
As of 2021, aka the pandemic era, I am currently a community member working with the Chapel Haven CareerAbility vocational department to get me enrolled in a healthcare program that could get me a certification that would qualify me to work in a healthcare setting. Yale-New Haven Hospital is also a great aspect of New Haven seeing how it is rated as a topnotch healthcare facility throughout the nation.
Now, before I end this article. I would like to give some advice for students and parents seeking programs. Chapel Haven would be the one, it is top rated throughout the country and sadly there are not any comparable programs in most areas (I wish there were). It revolves around hard work, being positive and being motivated. Also, they have great recreational activities. It will be a great experience. Thank you all at Chapel Haven for helping me defeat my battle and making this possible for me.
About Chapel Haven: Founded in 1972, Chapel Haven Schleifer Center is an award-winning, nationally accredited transitional living program and approved private special education devoted to helping adults with cognitive disabilities and social disabilities live independent and self-determined lives. Chapel Haven Schleifer Center has grown to serve more than 250 adults (18 years of age and older) in the residence and the community with two distinct programs; REACH and Asperger’s Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT). Chapel Haven Schleifer Center recently completed a $41.5 million campus expansion at its founding campus in Westville, CT that has delivered a new, four-story REACH residential and classroom campus; a new Welcome Center, and, in 2020, the Schleifer Adult Independent Living (SAIL) center, designed for adults to age in place in a vibrant and non-institutional setting. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to www.chapelhaven.org