Carrie Spooner has always had a passion for people. Soon after she started working as a Direct Support Professional, Carrie realized she wanted to give more to individuals affected by developmental disabilities. She heard about Lakes Region Community Services Shared Family Living (SFL) program while providing respite for another SFL provider. After expressing her interest in the program, she was soon matched with individuals. Carrie was a provider for many years before she was connected with one of the newest members of her family, Monique.

SFL matches a person living with a disability with a qualified family who is willing to share their home long term. Providers open up their homes, lives, and families, providing care in a supportive environment. These unique living arrangements foster independence, encourage community involvement, and help to enhance the quality of life of those living with a developmental disability or an acquired brain disorder.

Monique lived in a nursing home for several years before coming to live with Carrie and her family. Carrie wanted the transition for Monique to be as smooth as possible. Before Monique officially moved in, Carrie would visit Monique in the nursing home, and Monique would spend weekends at Carrie’s house to familiarize her with the family. “This made the transition easier on both of us,” said Carrie. After a few visits, Monique was feeling more and more comfortable in her new surroundings and moved in full time.

When asked what the most rewarding aspect of being an SFL provider was, Carried replied, “There are so many pieces that I love! One of my favorites has been watching Monique grow, learn, and be comfortable in our home. She has come so far from where we first started, which shows me she is happy and relaxed here with my family. Another aspect is the positive effect being a SFL provider has had on my family. My children were able to grow up around individuals with developmental disabilities. This taught them patience, kindness, and to be non-judgmental.”

Carrie and her husband have two children and three individuals currently living in their home. During the week, Monique spends her days making connections in the community with her friends. At home, the family enjoys spending time cooking and playing games, like Uno, around the kitchen table.