Jim grew up in a loving home with his adoptive mom, who helped him have a great life. He was well-known in the Plymouth community and worked on the grounds crew at Plymouth State University for several years.

But 10 years ago Jim’s mom passed away. Without her help and guidance, Jim’s health and quality of life began to decline. Eventually he lost his job because of a health issue that prevented him from driving. Then five years ago, friends of Jim connected him with Lakes Region Community Services and the work of meeting his needs began.

“You name it we’ve worked on it,” says Jim’s Resource Coordinator Melanie Mardin. “We just sat down and made a list of all the things that he needed.”

The list included everything from assisting Jim in applying for the benefits that he was eligible for but not receiving, to helping him secure another job. Jim enrolled in the STRIDE internship program, a partnership between LRCS, PSU and Sodexo Dining Services, and was then hired for a position in the university’s dining hall.

James Preston (pictured center) stands with other student graduates of the STRIDE internship program in Plymouth.

In order to successfully live on his own, Jim gets help with housekeeping, shopping, and bill paying. Melanie also worked with Jim to make sure he had access to the volunteer and recreational pursuits he enjoys, such as horseback riding and being a volunteer Boy Scout leader – a role he has filled for the past 30 years. Jim also wanted to travel, so Melanie connected him with an agency that specializes in supported travel for people with disabilities. He’s already been to a dude ranch in Arizona and is planning a trip to Hawaii.

“From where he was to where he is today is just amazing,” said Mardin. “He’s back on track.”

The services provided by LRCS are designed to support individuals to live in the community and assist them in living full, meaningful lives. LRCS helps people with disabilities access and maintain employment and learn the life skills they need to live as independently as possible. And with a little bit of help Jim is thriving in the community.


Comments, questions, and ideas for future blog posts can be sent to: Joanne Piper Lang, LRCS Director of Development and PR at joanne.lang@lrcs.org