AMY'S OWN PLACE - LIVING WITH SPINA BIFIDA
Originally from Pittsburg, Amy Kerin grew up in Knoxville, where she graduated high-school, and then completed an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education/ Therapeutic rehab. She currently teaches in the parent’s day out program at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hixson, and is also a receptionist at the Signal Center.
Over the years, the design of the apartments where she has lived have challenged her independence. Amy was born with Spina Bifida, and has always needed a wheel chair. She also has a service dog as well. When she was younger she was able to be more independent, but due to time and increased pain, she now needs assistance with the tasks of daily living, and must wait for help.
“There is a real difference between places that are ‘accessible’ to those of us in wheelchairs, and those that are “functional,” for us,” Amy says. Even if she can get into an apartment or home, she can’t be independent because the counter top, cabinets and stove top are out of reach, and she has to have assistance to shower. “The only way to be independent is to have a house built to be functional for you,” says Amy. “But on a limited income that is not going to happen.”
“I had always known about Habitat, but one morning, I woke up and said ‘I’m calling Habitat to see about getting a house, ’” she said. Amy completed the application process and was accepted into the program. Since then she, and her service dog Guinness are frequently in the Habitat office where she is helping out with office tasks and answering as part of her sweat equity on her future home.
While Habitat homes are designed to be simple, decent, affordable and safe, they are also customized to meet the needs of families through the use of ground level entries, doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, roll-in showers, and other features that make the home work for the family.
Amy is looking forward to the independence that her new Habitat home will give her – “I will be able to cook without burning myself, or to take a shower when I want to without having to call someone to help me.”
“Habitat’s program is a good thing – It works if you go through the process” Amy says. “It’s good to know that there are people out there that will help you.”