Schools & Program
Visits - Dec, 1999 Issue #64
Transitional Independent Living Program
New Haven, CT
Judy Lefkowitz, Admissions Director
Visit by Carol Maxym
November 18, 1999
As I parked on Whalley Avenue, I realized I had driven by Chapel Haven many
times, but since the sign is a rather recent addition, I had never noticed it. I am glad I know about it now! I spent three informative
and interesting hours with admissions director, Judy Lefkowitz and had the opportunity, also, to talk with program director, Phyllis
Jacks. I was immediately struck by their dedication, enthusiasm, knowledge, and good humor.
Chapel Haven is a transitional program for 18-45 year old adults for whom
life presents special challenges. Chapel Haven offers adults with IQs in the range of 60-90, a chance to become valued members of
society. During their average stay of over two years, their goal is to learn the skills necessary to live independently, maintain
a job commensurate with their abilities, discover how to enjoy personal relationships with their peers, and learn to respect themselves
as contributing members of society. The staff demonstrate their respect for their students by their firm and gentle guidance and the
realistic and realizable expectations they have for them.
This is not a program for individuals who have acted out, been involved with
drugs or alcohol, are prone to violence, or who have experienced severe psychological difficulties, suicide or suicide attempts. Chapel
Haven would not be an appropriate choice for anyone needing to be escorted to a program.
Students attend class to learn the basic skills they will need for the job
market. They are all expected to maintain a job, whether full or part time, and the school keeps in active communication with their
employers. Each has a bank account and learns how to manage it. Because Chapel Haven is on a main street in New Haven, residents have
the chance to interact in the community, patronize shops and restaurants, and experience the feeling of belonging.
Students work closely with a personal consultant who checks to see that their
apartments are clean and neat, helps them plan menus, teaches them how to shop and to cook, and in general, how to develop the skills
they will need to live independently upon graduation. The three to five residents who share an apartment eat their dinner together
family-style. There are a variety of activities available on the weekends, and residents are required to take part. No isolating here!
For many, Chapel Haven may be the first opportunity to find, live with, and enjoy real social interaction their peers. Family support
and family therapy are available.
I had the opportunity to chat briefly with several residents and one graduate
as Judy showed me around the facility. The easy rapport between students and staff was a pleasure to see. To me the students were
friendly; they seemed happy and purposeful. Outside the main building we encountered five students smoking, (yes, it is allowed outside
only; after all, the residents are all adults), chatting, and listening to music together. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of
them had ever had such ease in their social relationships before they came to Chapel Haven.
The apartments are nice, even if a bit sparsely furnished. Residents are
required to keep them clean and neat, and if, as was the case with one we entered, not up to snuff, then the counselor will work with
the residents to correct the problem. Chapel Haven has recently purchased the vacant lot next door, and they are planning to build
a new community center for the residents.
Copyright © 1999, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced
without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)