Nelson homeshare program creates new kind of family

Amanda Logan lives with a family that's helping her become more independent.

Amanda Logan (centre) lives (and has fun with) Peyton and Piper Wilkinson and their parents Amanda Beavers and James Wilkinson

Due to a developmental disability, Amanda Logan, 22, is not able to live on her own. So she lives with Amanda Beavers and James Wilkinson and their two children Peyton, 10, and Piper, 8, in Nelson.

“My husband and I realized we want to give back,” says Beavers. “We have been blessed, lucky, in our life. We have this space, we have something to offer.”

Logan’s new family life (she moved in with them in October) is part of the homeshare program run by Community Connections Support Services. The program provides homes for people over 19 like Logan.

Asked why she likes living with Beavers and Wilkinson and their children, Logan says, I like them. I like how I have my own space and if I want to get away, I can. We watch movies together sometimes. I like playing with the kids. We like playing board games a lot, and that’s fun.”

Peyton, Piper, Amanda Logan and Amanda Beavers at home.

Peyton and Piper like it too. They are obviously fond of her. They explained, laughing, that they like how Logan always sides with them if there is a stand-off between parents and kids about what movie to watch.

“And she will play games Mom and Dad won’t play,” says Peyton, “like tag.”

“One time I didn’t want to walk upstairs after a movie and Amanda carried me up,” Piper delightedly reports.

“Mom and Dad would have said, ‘Tough, use your legs,’” says Beavers.

“It’s like having another mom,” says Piper, “because sometimes when we are on the couch she will snuggle me and read. One time Amanda brought one her stuffies upstairs and I brought one of my donkeys down, and we played stuffies, and it was so fun.”

“And she joins us for the family book we are reading,” says Beavers, who says that for her, having Logan in the house is like having a roommate.

Peyton and Piper are homeschooled, so Beavers is home much of the time, which makes this arrangement possible. She works a few hours a week as a fitness instructor and her husband works full time at the Kootenay Co-op. Part of their income is a contract with the homeshare program.

“Our home is our sanctuary,” Beavers says. “A friend who did this said, ‘you guys would be great at it.’ But it just seemed so different than anything we thought of. We looked into foster care and worked with an autistic boy in a big brother style thing. We thought our home is good enough, we are in a good place emotionally, and physically our home is comfortable and spacious and calm, so it felt like we have something to offer.”

Logan is in and out of the house a lot.

“I go to Bigby Place once a week, the disability place where people hang out and are free to be themselves,” she says. “Friday night is youth night. We go to movies or have a dance party. It’s my social place. I go to the gym sometimes. I work at the post office twice a week and at Nelson CARES every Saturday, cleaning. I like to clean.”

Her preference for cleaning works well in the household, Beavers says.

“Because we are all roommates and all have roles here, maybe I grocery shop and cook, kids take out the garbage and sweep, and Amanda cleans the bathroom. She chose that as her job around the house. We all have our stewardship thing in the house.

“Amanda has her own interests, Beavers continues.She went to gym this morning, but I didn’t go anywhere we did math and geography at home. So we have our own lives but a lot of the time we’re together for dinner, or just connecting to check in.”

Logan says she’s learning to be more independent, “so if I move out of here I can take care of myself, and maybe get married.”

“We are working on the skills that make that possible,” Beavers says.

Then she tells Logan: “I am proud of what you have done well. You used to get really stressed about the paperwork you have to do every month [for the program]. It was not something you did independently. You do it independently now, and it doesn’t stress you out and cause anxiety. To me this is huge, and I get really excited about that. Even going into that government building used to stress you out and now you just do it. You don’t panic any more.”

Logan agrees and Beavers adds another example.

I see you eating more and healthier, not that you don’t have treats and snacks, but you eat more regularly during the day.”

The homeshare program, which has been operating in Nelson for about seven years, has about ten placements and according to its coordinator, Sue Clark, they are always looking for more. Community Living BC runs the program across the province.

“We are looking for people to welcome someone into their home who requires support, to help them reach their potential,” she says.

Many people being supported are less independent than Logan and some also have physical disabilities, Clark says. She screens potential placement homes very carefully and negotiates a contract rate depending on the level of support needed.

“You are sharing your home, your life, your family, everything, with this person. We are all about creating a good match. Whether it’s working out is the decision of the person being supported.”

Logan says she wanted to be interviewed about the program because she has friends on waiting lists. They’re frustrated because there aren’t enough families to take them, so she wants people to know about it.

For anyone interested in sharing their home, Clark can be reached at 250-608-0357.

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