Jake Van Meter is eating the first breakfast of many in his new apartment.
Jake has cerebral palsy, and for years he was living in a nursing home. Several years ago, he, his mom Linda Elliot, and two other men brought a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Eventually the state agreed to create a waiver program and a new facility in Bangor called Knights Court.
“Here it is 6 years later and he’s finally in his apartment,” said Linda Elliot, Jake’s mother.
The residents pay one third of their income toward bills and upkeep of the apartment, and now they can be more independent. Eric Reeves says he’s excited to go back to his hobbies.
“I will be able to paint a little bit more because I wasn’t really able to paint at the nursing home and I love painting,” said Eric Reeves.
The lawsuit formed into a class action allowing others to benefit, says Staci Converse, attorney with Disability Rights Center.
“The work that these three men did, 75 people are going to be able to get these services that were never before available,” said Staci Converse.
Reeves says they’re not the ones who deserve all the credit.
“There’s a lot that went on that we didn’t see and Staci and Jack and whoever else, I know they don’t want to hear this, but I owe them a lot,” said Reeves.
The residents have 24-hour care provided by the Charlotte White Center. Elliot says these young men finally have their lives ahead of them.
“They’re wanting to learn new things, they want to expand their world, they’re not ready to downsize yet. And this environment offers them the opportunity to do that,” said Elliot.