Success Stories

John Tuite

John Tuite is a 27 year old developmentally disabled male with a primary disability of Spina Bifida.  John lives in Lakeland with 4 roommates in the Carelton Group Home, which is owned and operated by Alliance for Independence.

John had a Below the Knee Amputation on his right leg in August 2008.  He lived at a Skilled Nursing Facility for Rehabilitation from October 2008 until February 2010.  During that time, John received Medicaid, but had no income.   Because his parents are older with medical issues, John was not able to stay in their home when he was discharged from the Rehabilitation Facility.  In addition, he had no transportation, no income and was not physically able to work.

John moved into the Carleton Group Home in March 2010.  He has a furnished, private room and is also provided with meals and transportation.  John performs most Adult Daily Living Skills independently. John also receives Residential Habilitation Skills Training in his home and attends the Adult Day Training Program at AFI.

A few of the goals that John has reached are purchasing a new laptop computer and registering for college. He has a few goals he is currently working to achieve, such as learning how to work on a car and getting out into his community and lending his time through community service.  One other goal for John has been taking care of his health and well being. John applied for and was approved for Medicaid and he also obtained a Primary Care Physician and Specialty Doctors.

John now has a stable routine that provides safety and well-being.  His medical issues are monitored and controlled.   He has established friendships with roommates and staff and continues to extend his personal goals.

When asked if his life had been improved since he moved into the Carleton Home, he answered “The change is tremendous!  This was my chance to get my life in order.  I earn a little bit of money working on Contracts at AFI and my life at Carleton is interesting, comfortable and secure.”

Leila Hall

Leila Hall is a 45 year old woman who came to AFI in the early 90’s. She has accomplished many things since coming to AFI, including most recently beginning the process to start her own business.

Leila lived with her grandparents, her father and her sister, who also has a disability, while attending high school where she received a special certificate.  For the next several years Leila and her sister stayed home entertaining themselves while her other family members worked for a living. Leila had minimal vocational and social skills and did not participate in any valued social roles in the community. Leila was unaware of the fact that she could learn much needed life skills and even earn her own paycheck before coming to Alliance for Independence.

Leila receives individualized skills training and vocational training at AFI, acquiring numerous life and vocational skills. Leila now earns a paycheck by working on several Contracts, including several that require the use of a commercial sewing machine.

Leila has served as President of AFI’s Governance Committee and the AFI Aktion Club, a service club for adults with disabilities sponsored by Kiwanis International. What stands out most about Leila is her desire to help others.  Leila’s membership in the Aktion Club is important to her because she wants to give back to the community. In 2007 she participated in the beautification project for Hunt Fountain Park as well as a fundraiser that benefitted Talbot House Ministries. Even before the chartering of the Aktion Club, Leila volunteered her time at the SPCA and received recognition for her dedication to the organization. She is a member of the Sunshine Chorus, as well as the Dream Team, which is a group of clients who volunteer their time to the Public Relations needs of the Agency.  Leila speaks at numerous United Way Presentations and helps with Agency tours by handing out brochures.

Leila has become very savvy and resourceful since coming to Alliance for Independence. Leila made it through an emotional time after the untimely deaths of her father and grandmother and was able to use skills that she learned at AFI to get her family to safety in the midst of an apartment fire.

In talking with Leila she said “Before I came to AFI I sat at home for many years very bored. I never knew that I could earn a paycheck. Now that I have learned so many skills, I have many interests, like using sign language to communicate with my non-speaking friends and creating artwork. If I had not come here I might still be at home watching TV all day.”

Today, she is doing just the opposite.  Leila has started her own business selling homemade wreaths. Through working with Start-up/Florida, a program offered by the University of South Florida’s Center for Inclusive Communities, Leila has learned how to write a business plan, as well as how to market her product.

Being active at AFI has given Leila the courage and confidence to pursue all that she can in life.