Andrew’s apartment was filled with natural light streaming in from the windows, books lining the space between the floor and the window sill. He sat in his chair near the computer, which he explained was rigged so that he could play all of his music through the two large speakers on either side of the windows. The stereo, TV, and radio are all rigged so that he can operate them strictly with the use of his tongue and head movements. His apartment was unusually tidy, most likely due to the fastidious nature of the Visiting Nurses that help him with his daily needs.
Andrew has great difficulty speaking as a result of his Multiple Sclerosis. That definitely does not mean that he doesn’t have anything to say. When we turned the recorder on, you could tell that his desire to tell the story of his community helped him, at least for a moment, overcome his disabilities and raise his voice.
A graduate of UVM, he always thought that he would return to Vermont later in life to settle down. As a Peace Corps volunteer, he traveled to Honduras and Costa Rica to teach children with learning disabilities, but he was forced to return home as his condition worsened. For Andrew, home means having a place where his needs can be met, and he can find help with his daily routine. His physical disability makes even getting out of bed on his own impossible, and so he appreciates having that help but being able to maintain his own independence. He’s an extremely spiritual person who’s sought out strength and perseverance to find the sense of peace he exudes today.
Even while discussing how lucky he is to live at South Burlington Community Housing, he continually emphasized the need for more housing like this.