Celestine Ditaway found a good fit for a new living arrangement — and a friend — in Easterseals Arc participant Vera. At the beginning of April, Vera moved into Celestine’s home in Fort Wayne.
“I like staying here with her,” Vera said. “She keeps me regulated. She washes my clothes. She feeds me dinner. She did my hair this morning!”
Vera and Celestine have come together through Structured Family Caregiving, a program that provides professional and financial support for caregivers who welcome people with disabilities to live in their homes.
These two have known each other much longer than they’ve lived together. Celestine worked for Easterseals Arc for six years. More than two years ago, she began working some shifts at the apartment where Vera lived, providing support for her and two roommates.
She became Vera’s favorite staff member. A few months ago, Vera made it clear what a favorite Celestine is. “I asked her if I could move in with her, and she said, yeah,” Vera said.
Through the Supported Family Caregiving program, Vera moved in with Celestine at the beginning of April.
They’re proving to be a compatible pair and a practical fit as well. Celestine, 72, now works about four hours each weekday at a home health-care agency. Her 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. work hours fit well with Vera’s schedule. Vera, who is 41, typically gets on a Citilink bus at 7:30 a.m., then spends the day at Easterseals Arc’s Project Drive Group facility. She returns home about 4:30 p.m.
Vera, who has lost about 80 pounds in the last few years, gets a lot of help and encouragement from Celestine as Vera works to manage her weight. They go to the grocery store twice a week, plus medical appointments.
They team up to clean the house.
“We do chores, usually on Saturday,” Celestine said
Vera rattled off her end of the work: “My bathroom. My bedroom. Sweeping the floors. Doing my laundry.”
“She’s a very tidy person,” Celestine said of Vera. “She keeps her room looking nice and orderly. She’s a very good house cleaner. She helps me a lot.”
Vera has started attending Fellowship Missionary Church, near their home, with Celestine. She likes the church, and she found its spiritual atmosphere gripping.
“I couldn’t stop crying, because God had me!” Vera said. Now she’s looking forward to deepening her relationship with the church. “I’m going to be baptized in the water,” she said.
As they settle into a new way of life, Celestine finds that they’re comfortable together. In the late afternoons or early evenings, after they have dinner together, sometimes they sit on the porch and watch children play as daylight dwindles.
They want to go the YMCA more often. When Vera started losing weight about two years ago, she developed a taste for exercising at the Y. “I still like riding a bike. I still like the treadmill,” she said.
“I want to buy some games from the Goodwill,” Celestine said. “We have fun together.”