You Enable Jeffery to Live a Full and Creative Life

Artist Jeffery Elkins, 54, uses pencils, crayons and chalk to create colorful, expressive work. His drawings have been exhibited in museums, and his work has placed second in a statewide art show.

Elkins, part of Volunteers of America's Supported Living Services program, also has developmental delays and some issues communicating with others. Yet Elkins, who has never had formal art instruction, has something to express, and he does it well. His award from the Inclusion Art Show (and presented by the Governor's Office for Disabilities Affairs) filled him with pride.

Those who work with Elkins at Volunteers of America and his day program noticed and nurtured his natural artistic talents. "We all have helped him focus and looked for ways to encourage him and develop his abilities," says Elkins' Volunteers of America facilitator who helps him live independently, with 24-hour support, in his own apartment. "We set out to get his work shown at art shows and other places."

Volunteers of America helps persons with disabilities by focusing on their abilities. This philosophy is the foundation of the Supported Living program, which works with more than 100 people like Elkins. "What we do, in particular with Jeffery, is give individualized care," his facilitator says. "People with disabilities don't need a cookie-cutter approach."

Previously, Elkins lived in a Volunteers of America community home with others with disabilities. But when he was ready for independent living, our program was there to help. Now, with support, he enjoys his apartment, goes daily to a program for persons with disabilities and pursues his interests.

"People with disabilities don't need a cookie-cutter approach."

Elkins doesn't say much, but, as his facilitator points out, "He tells us he appreciates us. He says he trusts us and that means a lot." Supported Living gives Elkins, and all persons with disabilities served, independence, confidence and the ability to lead lives that are their own. And that makes for a full life.