“The Timing Was Perfect”
December 1, 2022
“Happy” is the word that embodies Brandon, a participant in RHD St. Louis Residential, a program within the Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (IDD) division of RHD. Not only does he say it often, he personifies this adjective through his infectious smile and exuberant disposition.
Brandon and Tom live in Saint Peters, Missouri, in a lovely, spacious house within a rural neighborhood. There’s a basketball hoop in the driveway, and a gas grill and hot tub in the backyard. This beautiful house also backs up into woods and leads to a spacious public park.
Tom is the homeowner, and he’s also Brandon’s caregiver. Brandon and Tom live together under RHD’s Shared Living Host model. In this program, individuals are paired with caregivers who live in the caregiver’s home. Participants gain the stability and independence that comes with living in the community, in a family-oriented model.
Previously, Brandon lived in other RHD residences, and Tom worked as a caregiver for a different participant. When the two of them met, they were both looking for a new connection, and “the timing was perfect,” Tom explains.
“At first we had lunch together,” he continues. “And then we hung out again three more times. It was just a really comfortable fit.”
At the beginning of their cohabitation, Brandon struggled with his health. He was diabetic, asthmatic, and overweight. “Then we started walking and running together,” says Tom. “At first, he would run out of breath and panic a little bit. We worked on that, and now he knows that he’s not going to die when that happens.”
“And now he’s running. He loves being active. It helps me stay active, too. Last week, it was 100 degrees and raining. He wanted to go outside. I said, ‘B, we don’t have to! We can take a day off!’ But he really wanted to go out for a run, and immediately started to put on his poncho.” Brandon and Tom have both found that proximity to a beautiful park is a great incentive for an active lifestyle.
Additionally, Tom encouraged Brandon to move away from a diet of fast food and soda. He now eats salads, chicken, and vegetable soup. As a result, Brandon has lost 45 pounds. His struggles with diabetes, asthma, and snoring have also decreased.
Brandon performs his share of chores around the house. He does his own laundry, makes his bed, cleans, and vacuums his bedroom. With the allowance he earns, he’s able to add to his impressive collection of wrestling action figures – a collection he thoroughly enjoys showing off to guests!
Brandon loves to spend time with his family. He sees his mother every week for dinner, either at the house or restaurant. He often wears a St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball hat as a tribute to her favorite team. Brandon and his cousin, Mac, are as close as brothers, too. The RHD community is also a significant part of Brandon’s life. At RHD Blank Canvas, he’s able to express himself artistically. When he joined with other RHD St Louis Residential participants at a local bowling alley, Brandon was in his element, laughing and having fun while making strikes and spares.
Whether he’s at home or out in the community, Brandon’s outlook can be summarized with his frequent refrain. It’s punctuated by his contagious laughter and properly captures how he makes everyone around him feel — “Happy.”