It all begins with you.
Inside This Issue
Greetings, We are excited to share the third edition of Journeys with you. Three years ago when we started this publication, we decided to name it Journeys because we believe that each of the nearly 700 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities we serve in California MENTOR’s Family Home Agency is on their own unique “journey,” accompanied along the way by our wonderful Mentors, our public partners and the team here at
A Place to Call Home
A Teacher and a Friend
Our Mentor model of shared living provides a comprehensive network of supports and services while offering those we serve the option to live as independently as possible as an integrated member of their community.
A Heart for Helping Others
Mentors, Clinical Coordinators, Direct Support Professionals and Regional Center staff all work together
in order to meet the unique needs of each individual we serve.
In this edition we invite you to join us on a journey throughout California as we introduce you to just a few of our 15 Family Home Agency programs, each as unique as the communities they are part of. And while each of our programs is tailored to meet the special needs of the individuals they serve, all of California MENTOR’s programs are tied together by a common mission to ensure that we provide quality of life-enhancing services to the individuals we serve across the Golden State.
The Beat of His Own Drum
Laughter Is the Best Medicine
We invite you to join us on our journey. To learn more about California MENTOR, please visit our website at
A Lasting Friendship
Key Claire Williamson Executive Director, Region 1 California MENTOR FHA
Get to know the people in our Circle of Support. Look for these icons throughout the issue.
Regional Center Mentor Individual
Dana Delman Executive Director, Region 2 California MENTOR FHA 2
Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Coordinator
California MENTORâ€™s Family Home Agency At California MENTOR we build lasting relationships through our Family Home Agency (FHA) program. As the largest and most experienced Family Home Agency provider, serving the entire Golden State, we partner with nurturing caregivers who we call Mentors to give Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) the services and supports they need in a place they can truly call home. In our FHA program individuals live in private family homes where they can receive services, form relationships and participate in everyday family activities. Our FHAs provide a comfortable and caring alternative to traditional care facilities and help adults of all abilities be active members of their community. The individuals we serve receive the support they need and benefit from the meaningful relationships they form with their Mentors and other members of their Circle of Support. With the right services and supports, individuals have the best opportunity to realize their full potential and participate in community life. They learn and grow. They create independent, healthy lives, while helping make our communities rich
and rewarding places to live.
Our Circle of Support
At California MENTOR, our Mentors are never alone. Our team of health and human services professionals are available 24/7 to ensure that our Mentors and the individuals we serve have the supports they need, every step of the way.
The dedicated individuals who make up our Circle of Support include: DSP
Mentors At the heart of California MENTORâ€™s Circle of Support are our Mentors, who are more than caregiversâ€”they are teachers, advocates and friends to the people they support. We ensure that our Mentors have the supports they need to be there for the individuals they serve by providing ongoing opportunities for them to enhance their skills.
Working together with our Regional Center partners, California MENTOR places individuals with a range of needs and abilities with nurturing caregivers in private family homes. Our team partners with Regional Center staff to carefully match each referred individual with a Mentor and continue to collaborate on an ongoing basis to ensure a lasting and enriching
Coordinators Each Mentor home is assigned a coordinator to provide individualized case management services. Our coordinators work with the people we serve, their families, our Mentors and our Regional Centers to develop an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) that meets the needs of each individual. Coordinators facilitate opportunities for community interaction, identify and access community resources and provide support to our Mentors.
Direct Support Professionals (DSP) DSPs are a link to the community for those they serve. They provide quality of lifeenhancing services and become an advocate and friend to the individuals they support. DSPs may provide assistance with daily activities, facilitate community involvement and support therapeutic and behavioral plans in partnership with clinical staff and Mentors.
As soon as he walked through the door, TJ knew that
Pita’s house was a place he could truly feel at home. “We could tell it was a great match right from the beginning,” says Pita, who supports TJ through California MENTOR’s Family Home Agency (FHA) program. TJ, a young man living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, moved in with Pita when he was ready to transition from his childhood home to a more independent living arrangement. Pita, who had experience educating children with autism, provides TJ with the support he needs to thrive in the community and grow into a more independent young adult. “He’s such a bright young man,” she says. “I keep him focused on the business of day-today living, and help him to work toward understanding his
Redwood Coast FHA Though California’s Redwood Coast is renowned for its ancient forests, scenic countryside and historic small towns, the region is also a beacon of progress, keeping pace with the newest advancements in healthcare and human services. Since the program opened in 2004, California MENTOR’s Redwood Coast FHA program has developed a reputation for specializing in the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum. The program’s leadership has focused on providing staff and Mentors with in-depth autism education and training opportunities. Mentors have opportunities to attend presentations at the MIND Institute in Sacramento, the leading autism education center in the United States, to gain perspective and insight into the latest research in the field.
In this photo: TJ
Mentors Every individual in our FHA program is actively involved in planning their daily routine and the services they need to be successful. We focus on “making a match” between the individual and Mentor which provides the foundation for a lasting and enriching relationship. These relationships—built in natural family settings—are what make our FHA program a success.
"I keep him focused on the business of day-to-day living, and help him to
work toward understanding his emotions without being overpowered by them."
- Pita, TJ's Mentor
emotions without being overpowered by them, a common challenge for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
California MENTOR’s FHA program affords TJ regular opportunities
to visit with his parents, just as any young person living on his own would. “Quality family time is so important. TJ’s mother is a fantastic dancer, and they love to go out dancing together,” says Pita. “TJ's dad owns a vineyard and once we spent the whole day together working out in the fields. It was a great experience for both of us.” Pita says that she’s learned as much from TJ as he has learned from her. “He’s a hard worker with an amazing spirit, and his enthusiasm is contagious!” she reflects.
“He’s a hard worker with an amazing spirit, and his enthusiasm is contagious!” - Pita, TJ's Mentor In this photo: TJ and Pita
A Teacher and
In this photo: Sean and Ivan
“Host homes offer adults with intellectual and
developmental disabilities the freedom to express their wishes and have their needs fulfilled in the communities of their choice,” says Ivan, one of California MENTOR’s
dedicated Direct Support Professionals (DSP). DSPs like Ivan work in partnership with Mentors to provide personalized support to individuals living in Host Homes. Ivan beams as he talks about the progress he’s made with Sean, one of the individuals he serves. “I fulfill a lot of roles 6
"Sean really benefits from the stability of having a normal home life and a family that cares for him." - Ivan, DSP for Sean,” he says. “I’m a link to the community, a friend, a teacher and a cheerleader.” Ivan and Sean work oneon-one to help meet Sean’s personal needs and work toward achieving his goals. “Sean has wonderful Mentors, Rick and Ellen, who work hard to give him a place to call home,” says Ivan, who assists Sean both in his home and in the community. “I feel so proud to support them by
Direct Support Professionals (DSP) DSPs are the link to the community for those they serve. For some, they may be the eyes of those unable to see, or the voice for those who can’t speak. For others, they are a friend and a cheerleader who provide support on the path to one’s true potential.
helping Sean develop the skills he needs to be a more self-reliant, independent individual.” Ivan works together with Sean, Rick and Ellen to help with daily activities like meal preparation, medication and personal care. He guides Sean through community integration exercises, helping him become more comfortable navigating public transportation, managing his money and maintaining positive social habits. “Last week, I took Sean bowling,” says Ivan. “He knows I’m there to support him, so we both get to relax and enjoy each other’s company.” “Sean really benefits from the stability of having a normal home life and a family that cares for him,” says Ivan. “California MENTOR’s FHA program is helping Sean to realize his true potential.”
Orange County FHA Known around the world as “The OC,” Orange County is a thriving beachside community teeming with opportunity. California MENTOR’s Orange County FHA office offers comprehensive community integration services to help the individuals we serve immerse themselves in the area’s vibrant Southern California lifestyle. The program employs DSPs and coordinators who partner with Mentors to teach essential healthy living skills, help clients achieve self-sufficiency, and encourage those we serve to make the most of Orange County’s abundant recreational opportunities and outdoor activities.
In this photo: Sean showing off his bowling skills
Dennis Lackey first noticed the ad in his local Penny
Saver while enjoying his breakfast cup of joe. At first, he skipped past the employment page, but he found himself wandering back again, like it was pulling at him. After working as a construction contractor for thirty years, he was only too ready to kick back and not answer to an alarm clock at five o’clock every morning. He soon realized that he needed to keep busy, however. Retirement turned out to be anything but. Dennis found a job as a part-time bus driver for the county mental health department transporting clients, and it awakened in him a goal from when he was much younger, a desire to help others and give back to his community. He never imagined it would end up changing his life. It’s because of his own experience with a learning disability that Dennis has a heart for helping others. He recalls a teacher who helped him overcome his challenges in school, nurturing his strength in math and helping him enjoy school and succeed. When he saw the Penny Saver
Ukiah FHA Located north of the San Francisco Bay area, on the western shores of Clear Lake, Lake County embodies beautifully restored historic downtowns, inviting lakeside parks, the state’s cleanest air, spectacular scenic beauty, and unsurpassed recreation. Lake County is home to nearly 64,000 Californians as well as Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in California, and Mount Konocti, an ancient volcano. California MENTOR’s FHA program seeks to support the varied needs of those we serve by providing a wide array of resources, including a speech therapist, nurse, marriage and family therapist, and behavioralist. Our Ukiah FHA program works closely with Redwood Coast Regional Center serving individuals and allowing them to benefit tremendously from the opportunity to live and grow in a loving, supportive family environment.
In this photo: Mark
ad with the header, “Become a Mentor host home provider to an Adult with Disabilities,” he realized this was his chance to give back. After Dennis' first call to California MENTOR’s Family Home Agency office, he decided to apply to become a Mentor. Three months later, after our comprehensive screening and matching process, which considers the interests, skills and personalities of individuals and Mentors in order to create that “perfect match,” Mark, a man with a strong handshake and a gentle demeanor, moved into Dennis' home. They quickly bonded like two brothers, Dennis the big brother and Mark the younger one. In December of 2013, they rented an RV and drove from Fresno to Anaheim. They found an RV park adjacent to Disneyland and spent three fun-filled days at the park and one at Six Flags, riding the roller coasters and screaming their lungs out. Before Mark entered his life, Dennis says he didn’t have much to keep him active and often found himself watching TV. “I used to spend a lot of time looking between my feet,” he says. These days, Dennis is feeling the positive effects of being active and helping others. His doctor asked him what had caused such an improvement in his mental, emotional and physical health. Dennis told him, “I am a Mentor now!”
Coordinators Ask any Mentor who they rely on most, and you'll probably hear, "My Coordinator!" Our Coordinators work closely with the Mentor, the individual, and the Regional Center to help create and implement each person's Individualized Service Plan and are there to support them every step of the way.
Dennis is the first to tell you that he gets just as much or more out of being a Mentor as Mark does in having a real family home to live in instead of a group home. He says, “I feel I have completed the circle in life with being a Mentor. I’ve finally found what I was meant to do.” When asked by family and friends what it has meant to open his home and life to Mark, he has a ready answer. “Helping others helps you!”
"I've finally found what I was meant to do." - Dennis Lackey In this photo: Mark and Dennis enjoying an RV trip
“Marcus is a gentle giant with a great big heart,” says
Stephen, who became a Mentor after working at a group home for individuals with developmental disabilities. “All it took was a little patience and understanding to help him come out of his shell.” Before Marcus moved in with Stephen, he was not very talkative and struggling with his health and hygiene. Within months of moving in with Stephen, his demeanor, image and outlook began to change for the better. Stephen took the time to respect and relate to Marcus, helping him to develop hobbies and immerse himself in the community. “I started taking him to rehearsals for the music program at my church,” says Stephen. “As he got to know everyone, he decided he wanted to be a part of one of our
Long Beach FHA Overlooking the beautiful San Pedro Bay, Long Beach, California is a dynamic waterfront metropolis and one of the most culturally diverse cities in America. California MENTOR’s Long Beach FHA office taps into the myriad of resources available in the region to provide exceptional services for individuals and families within the Harbor area. The program serves individuals in the communities of Torrance, Harbor, Bellflower and Long Beach in Los Angeles County. Working in partnership with Harbor Regional Center, California MENTOR’s Long Beach FHA works to ensure that the individuals we serve have the resources and opportunities necessary to grow and thrive.
In this photo: Marcus
In this photo: Stephen and Marcus
"Marcus feels happier, more productive, and loves expressing himself through music!" - Stephen, Marcus' Mentor
congregation’s musical productions. I signed him up for drum lessons, and ever since, he’s been an amazing addition to our cast. He feels happier, more productive, and loves expressing himself through music!” Last Christmas, Stephen bought Marcus a bicycle that he rides every day to his bus stop with friends from his day program. Stephen and Marcus often ride together along the beach path near their home. The exercise has helped Marcus lose weight and begin a healthier lifestyle. This past year, Marcus developed some serious health issues, and Stephen needed assistance coordinating his medical care. “I don’t know what we would have done without Amanda, Stephen’s coordinator from California MENTOR, and the help we received from the Harbor Regional Center,” Stephen says. “The MENTOR staff helped me to keep track of Marcus’s appointments and paperwork, coordinate with his doctors, and make sure he was comfortable during his hospital stay. As a team, the staff from California MENTOR and Harbor Regional Center were truly instrumental in Marcus’ recovery.” And Stephen was there at the hospital as soon as Marcus woke up, bringing gifts to him from his congregation. “You should have seen the smile on his face,” he says with a grin. “It was a true
COLLEGE TO CAREER College To Career (C2C), a partnership between Long Beach City College, Harbor Regional Center, HOPE Inc., and California MENTOR, provides students with disabilities the support they need to attend college, become more independent and prepare for life’s next steps.
To learn more, call 1-855-MENTOR2
In this photo: Lee and Richard
“Richard has been making me laugh since the first day I
met him,” says Lee. “I was providing respite care for another Mentor when we first met, and we instantly clicked. I knew that I could give Richard the guidance and support he needed to succeed, and California MENTOR supported
me wholeheartedly.” Before he came to California MENTOR, 36-year-old Richard had been living in a group home. “It wasn’t a good fit for him,” says Lee. “He was drawn to the independence of a Host Home program, and knew that California 12
MENTOR could provide him with the support system, tools and resources he needed to follow his dreams.” An exceptionally determined individual, Richard has been attending Fresno City College for 16 years, working to earn his Associates Degree. Lee helps him to keep up with his coursework by providing structure, motivation and encouragement. After years of hard work, Richard is almost ready to graduate. When he’s not working toward his degree, Richard spends his free time as a stand-up comedian. Lee laughs to himself as he describes some of Richard’s best jokes. “You should hear his Arnold Schwarzenegger impression! It brings down the house.” Lee is Richard’s biggest cheerleader and has helped him book performances at local comedy clubs and restaurants. California MENTOR staff and their families
Central Valley FHA Nestled between the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada range, the beautiful Central Valley is the fastest growing region in California. Known affectionately as America’s garden, this fertile region is made up of vast stretches of farmland, world-famous vineyards and flourishing cities and towns. Home to 6.5 million Californians, the Central Valley is a cultural melting pot. Our Central Valley FHA program embraces the region’s diversity, serving individuals from a wide variety of cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds. We maintain a diverse pool of Mentor homes to ensure our FHA program is able to make successful, compatible matches for all of the individuals we serve, whether they prefer the more relaxed pace of country living or the energy of a growing city.
regularly attend Richard’s shows. “The crowds and performers love him!” says Lee. “He’s bonded with his fellow comedians and has made a great group of friends.” Through his friendships within the comedy community, Richard has even been invited to perform at the famous Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles. Lee is grateful for the support he and Richard receive from California MENTOR. “Lee and my coordinators help make my dreams come true," says Richard. “I always have someone to support and encourage me.” “The MENTOR staff are really invested in helping Richard achieve his goals. No matter how late at night or how far away he performs, he always has a friend in the audience.” Richard says that he had never known anyone could care so much about his happiness and success until he moved in with Lee. “He’s his own man, but he knows I’m here to support him,” says Lee. “He has his own space, he makes his own choices, and he has the freedom to pursue his own goals. He’s so much happier knowing he’s a true member of the family.”
"He’s his own man, but he knows I’m here to support him."
-Lee, Richard's Mentor In this photo: Richard on his way to the Improv 13
Friendship They said it wouldn’t last. But what started out as a
temporary placement for Carmen, a woman living with intellectual and developmental disabilities who had spent much of her life at California’s Camarillo State Mental Hospital, has become one of California MENTOR’s longest and most successful matches. Just four years after California MENTOR opened its first FHA program in Kern County, Yusuf welcomed Carmen into his home for what they both anticipated would be a short stay. That was 1999. Fast forward fourteen years later, Carmen and Yusuf consider each other family, and Carmen is thriving. Since moving in with Yusuf, Carmen has made great strides, in part because she has benefited from living in a smaller environment where she gets one-on-one attention. “I like coming home because it’s calmer here,” says Carmen.
Kern FHA California MENTOR’s first FHA program was established in Kern County in 1995. Larger than Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut combined, Kern County is a growing community with rapidly evolving needs. The Kern FHA program offers the region’s premier shared-living option, ensuring the individuals it supports receive focused, quality care in carefully selected Mentor homes. Kern’s FHA program is known for being able to successfully match the more challenging placement requests received by the Regional Center, including pregnant or parenting clients and clients with significant medical challenges. The program also boasts some of the longest-standing Mentor partnerships in the state.
In this photo: Carmen showing off her jewelry
With Yusuf’s encouragement, Carmen embraced her Native American heritage and began making jewelry, a skill she learned from her mother. Carmen likes to shop at local craft stores, buying the beads she uses in her jewelry. She carefully matches beads and stones that complement each other by color and size, and she customizes her jewelry to match her outfits. She also gives her jewelry as gifts to special people in her life. She has received such positive feedback from everyone who sees her work that she is even considering selling her jewelry at local fairs. Both Yusuf and Carmen credit the support they receive from California MENTOR as one of the reasons their relationship has been so successful. They regularly participate in events hosted by the Kern FHA program, including Mentor nights and holiday parties. “My coordinator Barbara comes to visit me five hours every week,” says Carmen. “Sometimes we go to buy beads, sometimes we visit the neighbors and sometimes we just sit and talk.”
Regional Center Working together with our Regional Center partners, California MENTOR places individuals with a range of needs and abilities with nurturing caregivers in private family homes and maintains an ongoing partnership to ensure they receive the highest quality of care.
“I’m lucky to have Carmen in my life,” says Yusuf. And from the smile on her face, you can tell Carmen feels the same way, too.
"I’m lucky to have Carmen in my life." - Yusuf, Carmen's Mentor
In this photo: Carmen and Yusuf enjoying the outdoors
9166 Anaheim Place, Suite 200 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 1-855-MENTOR2
PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID RANCHO CUCAMONGA PERMIT NO. 1215
Who Can Become a Mentor? Our Mentors come from all walks of life. They are men and women, married or single, and represent a range of family types. Mentors may be stay-at-home moms who want to earn money at home, empty nesters or retirees looking for a way to give back, or social services professionals with experience caring for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. One constant among our Mentors, however, is their commitment to care for and make a positive difference in
someoneâ€™s life. If being a Mentor sounds like it might be right for you or someone you know, please contact us at: 1-855-MENTOR2 or visit our website, www.MentorsWanted.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
In this photo: Carmen
Call us at 1-855-MENTOR2 or visit us online at www.MentorsWanted.com. We're looking for neighborhood heroes just like you!
Using your Smartphone, scan the QR code to visit our Family Home Agency website. No smartphone? No worries, visit www.MentorsWanted.com.