Trio of Charles Lea clients enjoying freedom, new home
Note: Anthony's story has been updated here.
Anthony Rogers, left, and Nathan Branch are shown in the den of their new home, which was decorated for Christmas by a garden club.
By Dustin Wyatt
Published: Friday, December 21, 2012
Nathan Branch rolled into his bedroom with a wide smile across his face.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” the 18-year-old said.
On a recent Monday, Branch, who uses a wheelchair because of a number of physical disabilities. showed off his televisions and his Nintendo Wii game system, which is “where the fun happens,” he said. He showed off pictures of his girlfriend and the teddy bear she got him last Christmas.
But perhaps most significantly, he showed off how he can manipulate almost everything in his new home with the press of a button, either on his wheelchair, a band around his wrist or an iPad.
“Living here is awesome,” Branch said. “I can pretty much do anything by myself. I can get in the shower, I can get in and out of the bed by myself. I can brush my teeth, watch TV.”
It’s great to be home for the holidays.
And for him and his roommates Anthony Rogers and Bobby Cornelius, this feeling is better than ever.
In August, the three men, all who use wheelchairs, moved into a home together where they live more independently than ever before.
The house, which is in Cowpens, is a part of the Charles Lea Center’s Residential Services program, in which adult clients with special needs are put into homes that use SimplyHome, made by a North Carolina-based company.
SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products geared toward the aging and disabled. The doors open with the push of a button, and the cabinets, microwave and sink in the kitchen are all lower so the men can access them in wheelchairs.
“The guys seem very happy with this arrangement,” said Dr. Jerry Bernard, executive director of the Charles Lea Center.
The Charles Lea Center Residential Program started in 1977 with two group homes for 16 individuals. During the past 35 years, the residential program has grown dramatically to become one of the largest of its kind in the state, according to a news release.
While a caregiver does stay in the home with Nathan, Anthony and Bobby 24 hours a day, the caregiver doesn’t always have to be with the residents.
Anthony Rogers, a huge South Carolina Gamecocks fan — demonstrated by the garnet paint on his bedroom wall — enjoys the liberty of being able to go into his room and watch ESPN on his TV.
“I like having my own place,” he said.
Having a room full of his own things, with walls lined with baseball caps of his favorite sports teams, “means a lot,” he added.
Bernard said it’s great how well the group of guys get along and interact with each other.
Decked out for holidays
And what’s a home in December without decorations?
With Christmas approaching, seven or eight members of the Lady Slipper Garden Club came into the home last week and put up a Christmas tree, wreaths and other decorations.
“We are a garden club that does a lot of volunteer work,” said Patsy Price, chairwoman of the club’s garden therapy. “It feels wonderful for us to help out, and the men just loved it. They were just thrilled.”