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Shared Living: Meet Clarissa & Matthew

By January 11, 2023January 30th, 2023Blog, Employee Stories, Shared Living

Meet Clarissa and Matthew. Clarissa is a Shared Living Provider to her brother, Matthew, who is an adult living with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). When she first heard of the Shared Living program, she said, “It made so much sense. I had become by brother’s current caregiver after our father passed away, about three years prior to learning about the program.” Her brother had been unsuccessful in previous group home settings, and this model seemed to work great for both of them. With the support of Spurwink and becoming a Provider, she was able to receive a tax-free stipend funded by MaineCare, and receive individualized, person-centered support for her brother and herself.

“Having Spurwink be part of the team to support both myself and my brother is so valuable,” Clarissa noted. “We both get new perspectives all the time and his choices are at the forefront.”

When asked what a typical day looks like for them, they noted that Matthew typically has a busy routine during the day. He does a lot of routine errands and visiting shops and local places of business in their town of Farmington. Living in the downtown area allows him to be very independent during the day because there is so much to do. Matthew loves his community and every business in town knows him. Clarissa is able to work during the day and they regularly check in on each other, and they’re together in the afternoon and evenings. The two just recently joined a bowling league, and Matthew “loves it!” They also like to eat out together and travel to see family when they can.

In his local community, Matthew also enjoys playing pool/billiards, going to the movies, participating in theme parties (Halloween), and Karaoke at local establishments. He loves going to the library, and has two cards: one for the local town library and the other for the college library at the University of Maine Farmington. As a family, they have planned activities and trips that support Matthew’s interests including crystals, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and Museum of Natural History. They are currently planning a trip to Disney, with a focus on Star Wars-related rides, events, activities.

Matthew works several hours a week cleaning, and also a few hours a week where he’s involved in community engagement activities with support staff. He loves the ability to have his own space but also be able to have structures in place to feel safe and consistent. Because of Shared Living, there is predictability, and his surroundings are stable.

Clarissa and Matthew had to learn how to navigate Shared Living from a sibling point of view, and says that it has been a positive learning experience and really works for them. With support from Matthew’s team, Clarissa, Matthew, and his other natural supports, known as “Supporters” helped to craft a Supported Decision Making Agreement. This agreement outlines different situations and who Matthew may turn to in helping him gather accurate and complete information to make the best decisions for himself.

To learn more about Shared Living and if being a Shared Living Provider is right for you, visit, or call (207) 871-1200.