Louis and Elisa Lopez Wedding

On June 9, 2012 Louis and Elisa pronounced their vows at St. Sylvester’s R. C. Church in Staten Island, NY. Marriage for individuals with developmental disabilities is not common due to complexities of long-term relationships. However, their marriage dream that started over 2 years ago became attainable as a result of greater collaboration among three service providers, Staten Island Developmental Disability Services Offices (SIDDSO), a regional office of the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Lifestyles for Disabled and Modest Community Services Association, Inc., (MODEST). The three entities promoted a person-centered approach to a long-term habilitation services and supports that assisted and continues to assist Louis and Elisa individually, for each to make an informed choice on his or her own. Each individual was supported and encouraged to involve family members, friends, or others for more options in order to make a good decision. Habilitation plans were developed and implemented to support them in choices and decision making about their daily living to lessen their dependence on others.

Before their big day to remember, Louis and Elisa have been in a long-term relationship for over 17 years and they wanted to live in their own apartment and get married. For a long time, both of them used to live in different 24-hour residential facilities which limited some of their options and both attend Lifestyles for Disabled Day Program. Louis receives Medicaid Service Coordination (MSC) from SIDDSO and Elisa from Lifestyles for Disabled; and both receives Residential and Community Habilitation services from MODEST.

On March 1, 2010, Louis moved into a less restrictive residential setting operated by MODEST from the NYS 24-hour operated facility. Since that move, Elisa was able to visit him and spend nights on weekends and on holidays. Then the three entities’ staff members from SIDDSO, MODEST and Lifestyles for Disabled began intensifying their efforts in a person-centered ways to help Louis and Elisa fulfill their wish to marry. The Team focused on what was possible, identified various steps to help them to achieve their set goals. First, Elisa’s priority outcome was to move from a 24-hour residential facility managed by a voluntary agency to a more independent living setting with Louis. The outcome was realized on October 1, 2011, when Elisa and Louis were able to move to MODEST’s operated Individual Support Services (ISS) a less restrictive residential setting with Community Habilitation Plans that supports them. Individualized supports and services are very instrumental in ensuring a greater success and quality of life outcomes for people with developmental disabilities we serve.
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