California might seem like a land of endless summer for people who only know it from television shows. But even though the beach and palm trees will always remind Californians of the summer, autumn in California is distinct and beautiful with its variety of colors, the wine country’s harvest season, and a slight but noticeable mellow-down of its busy cities.
Autumn is also the favorite for many of Sentry Living Solutions’ clients. The non-profit that caters to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities is always hard at work organizing events for their clients. Still, autumn tends to be extra busy and exciting.
“We’re in the last quarter of the year, and our clients love Halloween,” explains Sentry’s founder, Carlos Cienfuegos. “So we’re trying to integrate more community events and activities for community building.”
Having events and activities focused on community-building is incredibly valuable for people with developmental disabilities. These events can provide ample opportunity for social interaction and foster social inclusion, advocating and raising awareness of the presence of people with developmental disabilities in the community and the issues they often needlessly face.
Events such as bowling or pumpkin carving are fun and stimulating, offering different ways to promote health and well-being. Not to mention that they can encourage the development of skills and help people feel more confident. Ultimately, it’s about ensuring people with developmental disabilities have the best possible quality of life.
Sentry Living Solutions’ efforts to help promote social inclusion and improve the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities have been recognized and supported by state and private entities—for example, Trader Joe’s donated pumpkins for a pumpkin carving event.
During the pandemic, institutional help made all the difference in ensuring that Sentry Living Solutions could continue providing its services. “The state did step in quite a bit and made important decisions that helped people stay on and continue the services,” Cienfuegos recalls. “It was so uncertain. No one understood what was going to happen.”
Sentry Living Solutions does much more than organize events, however. The organization groups its services into four distinct categories, each catering to the specific needs of a particular profile of clients. Sentry can offer a scope of supported employment services for clients who are ready and willing to find employment. They would help the client find competitive employment, build skills, and gain independence.
Some clients might need supported living services. Sentry Living Solutions might help them find and move into a home, select housemates and personal attendants, and help furnish the place. The organization will also support its clients as they engage in everyday activities, participate in their community, and manage their finances.
“In independent living services, we provide educational services and teach life skills. The goal is to help individuals achieve a level of independence from their family and support system,” explains Cienfuegos. “Some achieve this level of independence, and we end up working ourselves out of the job as they become busy with work or school.”
Whether through various living arrangements or preparing people to find a job, Sentry Living Solutions offers services that are invaluable to people with developmental disabilities. It’s hard work for the clients and Sentry’s team but rewarding. And come Halloween, it gets to be really fun.