Heriberto has a new job. He lives at the Leake & Watts Popham community residence for adults with developmental disabilities. At age 39, he recently got his first job and started working at Target after extensive training. "I do porter work - clean the bathrooms, sweeping, mopping. I enjoy it. I like to help people when they need help."
Heriberto's liveliness and energy are infectious. You cannot help but smile as he tells you about himself and his home. Heriberto came to Popham in March 2008. "Since then, he has become increasingly independent," says Claudette Ogilvie, Popham Assistant Residence Manager. At Popham, Heriberto has learned how to cook, clean, do laundry and other household chores. He has focused on improving how he interacts with others and learned to be respectful and courteous. He has also learned to take the bus and subway on his own. With a paycheck in his pocket now, Heriberto is learning to manage his money.
When Heriberto is not at work, he spends his time with his housemates and neighbors doing a host of things he enjoys. "I'm a sports fanatic. I like basketball, swimming, football. My favorite is cycling." In fact, Heriberto won several medals in swimming and a 2nd place in basketball at the Special Olympics this summer. He is also an active member of his local church. On his own initiative, he received his first communion and attends church every Sunday. "He is the advocate in the neighborhood for the house," says Elliot Williams, Popham Residence Manager. "He speaks out and reaches out to help the other guys."
Heriberto is close to his family too. His brother Angel says, "He's more motivated now and wants to be more involved in the community." Angel, his wife and two children join Heriberto and his housemates for barbecues and birthday celebrations at Popham. Heriberto goes to the movies and out with his brother several times a month, and since he has learned to travel on his own, he is now able to visit his parents in Puerto Rico.
"I get along with everybody. People are nice here at Popham. Many of my friends are here. The staff is great too." It is obvious that Heriberto is happy with his life now, but he’s looking to eventually live someplace less structured. With job experience and more independence, the expectation is that he will move to an apartment assisted by support services. Angel says, "Heriberto has come a long way, and we know he’s not stopping now."