‘I wanted to choose my life’

Erik was searching for something new, something better, and he did his research. He was looking up services in Lincoln, Nebraska — where he has family, and where his girlfriend lived — and he came across a Youtube video about RHD.

“I wanted a fresh start in life,” Erik said. “I wanted to move on, and move up in life. I wanted to try something different, learn music and all that. I researched it online. I got access to the Internet, and I felt like I had the whole world at my fingertips. I checked out RHD online.

“I was checking out Lincoln on Youtube. I saw a video about RHD and thought it was different. It looked like a better deal for me. It’s nice to have more of a choice of what you want to do in life.”

Erik is thriving at RHD Nebraska in Lincoln, where RHD first launched residential and day services in Nebraska. He attends Live Yes Studios, the arts-based day program, and holds a job. Erik works at Valentino’s restaurant in the kitchen.

“It’s busy,” he said. “There’s a lot to do; I don’t ever refuse to do anything — I do what needs to be done. One of my co-workers was struggling with a trash can; she couldn’t lift it, and I could step in and help.

“I like having income coming in. I like the independence of it, that I can be around other people and work with them. I like helping out. If the boss needs me to do something for him, I’ll do that.”

Erik is involved in the community in his new home, including singing in the church choir. Most importantly, he said, he can live in his own apartment.

“I love it,” Erik said. “I’m pretty well organized there. Before, I was living in an extended family home. The one thing is, having a key to my own place, I walk in and it’s mine. I like the peace and quiet. I can put on a record and listen to my music and not have anyone tell me to turn it down. It’s mine.”

RHD Nebraska provides residential supports to individuals with developmental disabilities, and specializes in providing person-centered services, assisting individuals as they work toward meaningful and successful lives in their communities. Erik is one of several clients who are living successfully in the community in their own residences with support from staff.

“I came and visited for a day, and decided this was for me. It’s been a fun transition,” Erik said. “You can choose what you want to do, and not be pushed into anything like I was before. I wanted to choose, I wanted to choose my life.

“I went through a lot of challenges trying to get up here, but through every road block I kept going.”