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The Art of Independent Living with Mary Jo

The Art of Independent Living with Mary Jo

Categories: Blog, Featured News, Self-Advocacy, Sibling

Mary Jo Lowerre loves her room. It’s warm, cozy, and most importantly it’s hers.

Mary Jo Lowerre poses for the cameraGrowing up with six siblings sparked her interest in being independent early on. She’s always valued time to pursue her own interests in her own space.

Yet, Mary Jo’s ability to live on her own was impacted about five years ago. While living in the Jericho apartments, she started experiencing seizures.

This is when AHRC suggested she consider a residence. Unlike apartment housing, an AHRC residence typically has in-home supports responsive to the unique needs of residents.
Even though she was considering making a move to a shared home, Mary Jo remained adamant about having her own room during her life plan meeting—advocating for what mattered most to her.

“She needs to be encouraged to say what she’s thinking. Sometimes she doesn’t express herself because she doesn’t expect what she wants to happen. With AHRC, if you tell them your number one goal, they will make it happen,” said Tom Lowerre, Mary Jo’s Brother.

This led her to the Woodland Gate Residence and provided the best of both worlds, a place with staff to offer support during seizures and the freedom to set her own schedule. If she wants to take a walk to the local convenience store, she’s free to do so. If Mary Jo wants to skip an outing in favor of a night in—by all means.

At 70 years old, Mary Jo has settled into a comfortable routine. She attends day services five days a week, where she enjoys art projects big and small, from collages to meticulous diamond art pieces. She takes daily walks, an activity she’s started as part of a wellness plan adopted after the seizures began. For fun, she likes bowling and listening to country music. Most of all, she loves to settle down with bead stringing, a hobby she learned from her late sister Emilie “Em” Lowerre.Mary Jo shows off her beaded bracelets

Em and Mary Jo were remarkably close. She taught Mary Jo how to create beaded bracelets, was a crucial part of her care management team, and helped her navigate AHRC services.

“Some of this stuff is from my sister and some of this stuff I bought,” mentioned Mary Jo while pointing to her cabinets full of crafting materials. On the left side of her desk are her beading materials; on the right side sit two containers filled with hundreds of finished beaded bracelets. She grabs a handful and places them on the bed.

“It takes a while to make them. I only do about three to four a day,” added Mary Jo. She even made a bracelet for Shanthea “Shan” Buckle, Woodland Gate Assistant Manager. Shan, who encourages Mary Jo to submit her bracelets to the annual AHRC Flea Market.

Mary Jo said she will consider the offer, but for now, she’s content with maintaining her steady routine and perfecting the hobby she’s practiced for roughly two decades.