A Perfect Match
For Suzanne and Brian Revers, it all started with an extra bedroom. Their two older daughters had moved out to start their own families, and their teenage sons, Andy and Dawson, only had a few more years at home before they too would be out of the house and off to lead their own lives.
Like many parents adjusting to an empty nest, Suzanne and Brian began to consider what the next stage of their lives would look like. They considered renting the room out—figuring they could use the space to generate a little extra income for their family—and then Suzanne read an article about REM Iowa’s Host Home program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I was immediately intrigued,” Suzanne said. “Brian and I had never heard of a program like this. We liked the idea that people with disabilities could have a housing option like a host home that allows them to be active and live their lives in regular family homes.”
Ready to Make a Difference
Suzanne called REM Iowa and spoke with a recruiter, who explained how the organization helps couples just like the Revers become Host Home providers, or “Mentors,” and matches them with adults who need support and want to live in family homes. They knew from raising their son Andy, who has Down Syndrome, that being a Mentor could be challenging. However, through their own experience and with encouragement from REM Iowa’s team the Revers knew they could be great Mentors.
Brian and Suzanne were matched with Mason, a young man who had been living in a group home with other adults with developmental disabilities. Mason liked the group home, but wanted to live with a family, where he could have more personal support and better focus on achieving his goals of finishing school and finding a job.
When the Revers met Mason, he immediately “clicked” with the family.
“We knew right away that it was a good match,” Suzanne said. “Mason was funny and easy to talk to. We just got along great.”
Success at Home and in the Community
The host home program suited Mason right from the start. He has been able to pursue his interests in science and computers, and he has his own room, which he likes keeping tidy and organized. With the support of Suzanne and Brian, he was able graduate from the local transition center, which helped prepare him for his job clearing tables at a grocery store and cafeteria.
A year after moving into the home, Mason is thriving in his job, where he has made many friends and looks forward to going to work each day. He has also maintained strong relationships with his family, who lives two hours away, and enjoyed a trip to St. Louis with the Revers—his first vacation ever. His next goal is to fly on a plane.
“I have more freedom to do the things that I want to enjoy. I have more confidence and independence,” Mason said.
Suzanne says having Mason in the home has had a positive impact on the whole family, including her sons, who have developed close friendships with him.
“It really has been a perfect fit. It’s changed our lives,” Suzanne says. “I’m glad every day that I’m doing this because I get to see Mason blossom into everything he wants to be. He knows that there’s a whole team of people here and at REM who he can count on.”