Host Homes is an innovative housing option, offered by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, which enables people with disabilities to experience comforts of living in a family home with the freedom to choose the supports they need to lead full and more independent lives in community.
Bridget and Travis Nickelson welcomed Nicole and Yuri, two young adults with developmental difficulties, into their home last April. “It’s rewarding to watch them achieve goals,”Bridget said. Inconsistent staff at the group home Nicole shared made it difficult to build relationships to support her goals. In her Host Home environment, Nicole receives more one-to-one support.
“When I’d like to try something new, we all sit down and talk about it together,” she said. First on her list was a desire to sharpen resume writing and job interview skills at a new day program. All the hard work paid off when Nicole accepted a job working at a local restaurant. “This is a huge step in Nicole’s employment goals,” Bridget said “Nicole is a social butterfly who loves meeting new people.”
Yuri also explores relationships built through a love of cars in an auto dismantling classes. He says he hopes to get a job at an auto body shop close to the Nickelsons’ home. Meanwhile, he is a janitor at a nearby elementary school.
“Bringing home my own paycheck keeps me motivated,” he said. The unique environment of a Host Home also keeps him focused.“He needed a positive male role model,” Bridget shared of the friendship formed between Yuri and her husband, Travis.
And Yuri values the responsibility of watching over their younger sons. “They look up to him and he is determined to do well,” she said. “I feel a greater sense of purpose too,” Nicole said. Her newfound independence ignited a passion for advocating for freedom of choice for all people. “Many people with disabilities need support to speak up about changes they need,” explained Nicole, who met with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to share ways to improve lives of people with disabilities with services like Host Homes.“I want to help people go further in their journeys.”
This summer, Nicole and Yuri plan to start driving lessons. Bridget and Travis have been supportive of this endeavor, purchasing books and helping the two sign up for classes. “Host Homes reshaped me into the person I want to be,” Nicole said. “My outlook on life is much brighter.”