In 2013, Loretta and her two housemates met Rachel, a new part-time direct support professional with Emmaus. Neither Loretta nor Rachel knew this was the start of a companionship that would grow to the depths of family over the coming years.
Rachel joined Emmaus with the intention of it being a temporary job to get her through the season of life she was in.
“I wasn’t planning on staying, but I loved it… It was a home away from home, in somebody else’s home.” What started as a short-term job became a lifetime journey for Rachel and Loretta.
Rachel worked as a part-time direct support professional in an Emmaus home that Loretta lived in. During this time, Rachel would take Loretta on “outings”. Rachel got to know Loretta’s likes—ice cream, tea, and lemonade to name a few. These are now items Rachel keeps available for Loretta in their home.
In 2021, Rachel received an email from Emmaus introducing the expansion of the Host Homes program. In this model, a person with a developmental disability moves in with a family or individual. They become an integral part of the household and receive consistent support from the same individual. Rachel shared that she immediately started doing research. “I’m going to make that a goal,” she thought.
When asked what made her take the initiative to become a Host Home provider, Rachel said it was the idea of providing a level of independence, companionship, and individualized attention to a person. It also fills the soul, making you “a part of somebody, providing care and giving attention to someone else,” said Rachel.
Loretta, the woman Rachel supports, has become part of the family. They like to dance, play games, and enjoy watching The Price is Right and Family Feud together. Loretta loves to go to church with Rachel and enjoys outings with Rachel and her family. Loretta enjoys being part of a Host Home because of the independence it provides. When she wants personal time, she can go to her room and watch her favorite movies. She loves Westerns and anything with Madea. Loretta has also learned to help care for the family dogs – Hurricane Junior, Mr. Brownie, and Hero.
This spring, Loretta is going on her first cruise! What is an annual tradition for Rachel’s family has provided new experiences for Loretta. The preparation for this vacation required initiative, with Rachel and Loretta spending a day getting Loretta’s social security card, birth certificate, and ID to ensure Loretta had what she needed for the flight and cruise. They treated themselves to lunch at Red Lobster after- a much needed reward for anyone that has braved the DMV.
When asked what she’d tell someone who is interested in becoming a Host Home Provider, Rachel said, “It takes a lot of love and heart to be able to open yourself to inviting someone into your home and into your lives… You have to have the commitment. You have to have the compassion.”