Gary: Working Hard to Realize His Dreams

Unlimited Opportunities provides many services and supports to help their clients achieve their personal goals. Gary Appleberry has used these services to create a life he once wasn’t sure was possible.  But Gary has found out that lots of things are possible, if you have someone on your side and work hard to realize your dreams.

Gary was the youngest of 8 children and from the age of 3 was raised by his foster parents. He still has a close relationship with them, but is not close with his siblings. He didn’t have medical help for the psychological and emotional problems that caused him difficulty through his formative years. As a young adult, he faced mounting legal problems, a divorce and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and residential care facilities.

In 1996, Gary was placed at Marshall Habilitation Center. After nearly a year there, he was accepted into a supported living house in Boonville run by Unlimited Opportunities. He lived at Carla House, with two other men, and 24 hour staff supervision. Gary’s goal has long been to have his own apartment. He started working on that goal at Carla House. He began to learn the skills that many people take for granted-getting along with people, following a schedule, taking care of one’s home and possessions, and being accountable. In August ofGary at Work 2006 an apartment became available at Village Green Apartments, and Gary was ready to move into semi-independent living. When asked what he liked best about where he is now, he said “I like the freedom, and getting to know other people and being around my friends.”  Staff is available to assist Village Green residents if a problem arises or a question needs answered, but residents are allowed as much independence as possible, and are encouraged to learn how to be more and more self-sufficient.  “I really like the staff at Village Green. The Coordinator (Mary Campbell) is outstanding. She will always listen. All of them have helped me a lot with my apartment. I know a lot more now. Cooking is not that hard; you just have to read the instructions.”

Along with growth in Gary’s personal life, he took advantage of programs to help him improve his work skills and employment prospects.  Gary began working at Boonslick Industries, gaining skills and self-confidence.  After several years working in the sheltered workshop setting, Gary was ready to move forward. He was referred by Vocational Rehab Services and accepted into the UOI Supported Employment Program. Gary said, “Other jobs I had were harder without a job coach. Supported Employment is the best thing you can do to help you get started working. The job assessments help you see what you are strong at. It helped me see that I really liked working in the food service industry.” Carol Ries, manager of the employment program, has great things to say about Gary. “In the beginning he worked with a job coach to learn the skills he needed to be successful in the community work force.  As he became comfortable in his job, we phased out and he worked more and more independently. Over the years, we have assisted him in several career transitions that have allowed him more growth and opportunity as well as increase his independence. Gary has worked at the Isle of Capri since November, 2008 and has been promoted twice. He has become very independent and knows what he wants. He is a real success. “ 

Gary said, “I’ve tried to work my way up to living on my own and I’m getting ready to accomplish it.”  He will soon be moving into his own apartment that will be closer to his job.  He is saving up for a car and is studying to get his driver’s license.  He is proud of what he has accomplished, and justifiably so.

If you know someone who could be helped by the programs that helped Gary, call UOI at 660-882-5576.