16 Years of Independence is Something to Celebrate

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16 years ago ACT recycled VHS tapes and other media. The website, actservices.org, had just launched and everyone was excited about finally being online.

ACT had just hired a new employee, Michael. He started as a production worker in the ACT Works recycling program, learning job skills and earning his own income.

He has been with ACT ever since. Even though ACT no longer recycles, Michael still benefits from coming to the Day Program three times a week.

Michael lives in Ashland with his aunt and uncle, Cathy and Chuck. They too, have been involved with ACT for 16 years. Every year, Cathy asks Michael to select a few of his friends and a couple staff. She treats them all to a local favorite, Shakespeare’s Pizza.

It wasn’t always easy for Michael. Cathy and Chuck worked hard to create a routine for him. They opened their home to him so he could live a happy, healthy life and be independent.

“He was very different when he first came to live with us,” says Cathy. The improvements he has made are astounding. “He does his own laundry, puts away dishes, and cleans his room. That came from participating in the Day Program,” says Cathy.

At ACT, Michael is a member of Cooking Club. “My favorite breakfast is biscuits and gravy,” he says. “My uncle Chuck makes it for me sometimes. Do you want to know his secret? He uses canned biscuits.” Michael also appreciates Murry’s, a local restaurant. “I like to go for their pizza. But my favorite meal there is the Philly cheese steak.”

When he’s not cooking up something with Cooking Club, he goes for a country drive. “I get to see nature and things you don’t always see in Columbia.”

Beyond Columbia, every year for several weeks Michael explores Panama City, Florida and Montana with his family. He also takes time to stay connected with his foster family. Around the New Year he visits them for a week.

Cathy and Chuck hope that Michael’s future will be filled with good health, happiness, and his continued involvement with ACT. “If it wasn’t for ACT, Michael wouldn’t be able to take these extended trips with us, or even go out to dinner,” says Cathy.

“Chuck and I stepped in. With community resources, we were able to improve his quality of life and really let his personality shine through. He’s able to ride the OATS bus independently from ACT to Ashland. That’s something to celebrate!”

Cathy and Chuck, we’re happy to continue to welcome Michael to ACT. He’s been a great addition to Day Program for 16 years. We hope to see him for many more!


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