An essay by Tony
"My name is Tony and I’m living at a Smart House with three other men. We enjoy the house a lot. Now we can get something out of the refrigerator and we love the independence. We can help so much more! We can get things out for next morning like our clothes. All of us participate more with daily chores now. We are able to help cook now too. We have a new stove. It is really cool because the food gets hot and the surface does not. If you were to put your hand on it you wouldn’t get burned. It also can go up and down; now that is really, really cool! Some of the counters can go up and down too! Let’s talk about the fridge. It is really nice! The shelves remind me of a store. It has all of our food in it. The kitchen sink is at a lower level so we can all use the sink. We all enjoy and look forward to using our new bathtub. We have an iPad to control the lights, blinds, and TV. Next spring I would like to do some yard work. I’m already asking staff to help me. We really do love our new house! "
I want to introduce you to Kayla. Kayla lives in an Merakey AVS group home and attends day programming at the Edward J. Zapp Program Center. Every Wednesday, Kayla works as a Pharmacy Aide at Life Tree Pharmacy where she sorts, counts and packages medications. “I asked my Program Instructor to help me expand my horizons and earn a paycheck. I started working at Life Tree a few months later.”
Kayla enjoys playing baseball through the Miracle League, bowling and going to the movies with her housemates. She also takes pottery classes and helps with chores around the house. “My housemates are like my sisters – we get along most of time. We get excited to participate in activities like the prom.” Kayla participates in the Merakey AVS Communication Technology program where she can safely explore the internet and learn new computer skills. “I love emailing with my friends, listening to music and using Facebook. We learned about rescued sea turtles through a Skype session. Computer class is my favorite!”
Technology allows people to communicate around the world, provides entertainment, and brings information into our homes. But thanks to Pittsburgh-area smart homes owned by the human services agency Merakey, individuals with special needs can now accomplish tasks that most people take for granted.
“I love the house and it makes such a difference,” Michelle Schmidt, Merakey Allegheny Valley School house manager, said of one of the smart homes located in Aliquippa, Pa. “There’s so many things they can do now. They can make their own breakfast, wash their hands, and turn the lights on and off.”