Terry’s Story

Terry Terry’s Journey to Freedom

When you meet Terry, you instantly appreciate his charm and warmth as he greets you with a handshake and a smile. You can see how Terry surrounds himself with friends wherever he goes.

What is hard to imagine is that Terry (67 years of age) has spent a large portion of his lifetime in institutions including Zeller Mental Hospital, Dixon Developmental Center and Shapiro Developmental Center. Life in the institutions included having multiple roommates sharing a bedroom, timed meals that encouraged eating food quickly, communal laundry that meant sharing others’ clothes, limited family connections and an inability to pursue interests and dreams which left Terry wanting more in his life.

During the past 12 years of his life, Terry has welcomed a life of living in Normal, IL in his apartment with his roommate of choice, Jean. Terry and Jean share a two bedroom apartment with a porch. They enjoy choosing and cooking their meals and warmer weather brings out the grill for a “good steak” which Terry cooks with assistance from staff. Terry is an avid baseball fan and cheers both for the Cubs and Cardinals. With staff support, Terry has attended several Cardinal games in St. Louis.

As an independent person, Terry enjoys taking the bus to his day classes and attends job development classes at Marcfirst, a non-profit organization that provides a lifetime of services in support of people with developmental disabilities and their families. Terry spends free time spending time on his porch, doing his own laundry and housekeeping, hanging out with his ISU Best Buddy and giving back to his community. Terry is also a member of the Marcfirst Choir that frequently travels to perform in many venues including nursing homes, churches and other local organizations. Community living provides Terry with the opportunities and freedoms to thrive in an environment of his choosing.

When asked if he would ever go back to living in an institution, Terry voiced, “No way and I wouldn’t recommend anyone living there!” When asked if he had any other thoughts, Terry added, ”Institutions aren’t for anybody.”