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Meet Andre Wright of The Foundation for Independent Living in Coconut Creek

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andre Wright.

Andre, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began my journey here at The Foundation for Independent Living after graduating from The New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) with an undergraduate degree in Psychology back in 2009. Like most college grads, I began my hunt into the “real world” for employment. I soon recognized that it would take time to find a career which I felt would maximize my true passion of assisting others with finding their true passion in life. So, in the interim, I began coaching high school girls’ basketball at Coconut Creek High School located in Coconut Creek, Florida, where I put my love for sports and mentoring to use. This was a great introduction into the world of patience, LOL! I honestly learned so much about myself during this time and it definitely prepared me for what was to come in the near future.

Fast forward a few months, I was approached by the wife of a fellow basketball coach to consider stopping by her company to see if I would be interested in joining their team. I agreed to stop by and when I did, it instantly changed my life.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have to say that this has been a smooth transition and an unbelievable journey for me. From the moment I got here, I have felt appreciated and my passion has made itself very clear to that assisting high-functioning learning disabled adults with seeking their independence is truly something I was made to do.

The Foundation for Independent Living – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Foundation for Independent Living, Inc. (FIL), is a residential program for adults with varying intellectual disabilities and cognitive delays. The company began in 1985 by two families who wanted their learning-disabled children to live a life of purpose, with the guided support of dedicated staff members pushing them to be as independent as possible. Other objectives of the foundation are to provide social opportunities for residents, helping them function in a competitive employment environment and training for later life when direct family support is no longer available. Basic requirements for admission are a diagnosis of a learning disability, a recent psychological evaluation and an assessment of independent living skills. FIL is designed to stress all the elements in a normal routine of life—waking up by one’s self; preparing meals, going to work, making a budget, paying bills and recreational pursuits. In cases where residents still require practice in establishing a normal routine, the program offers individual training which includes: Personal finances, vocational assistance, self-help skills, community/orientation, household maintenance, meal prep, personal scheduling, health and fitness, emergency management and community mobility.

What makes us unique is that we are a long-term program where individuals at least 18 years of age and throughout their lives, can achieve independence in a manner they never thought possible. The really cool part is that each of our residents live in their own apartment, which is integrated within the local community. This factor serves as a huge motivator for them. They don’t feel institutionalized… they feel apart of a community. And for our residents, that is something they have always dreamed of.

Our current Executive Director, Melodie Hayes has done an incredible job with promoting true independence to our residents. They are being pushed to do more, based on their capabilities and this has improved their lives tremendously. I am currently the program’s Assistant Director where my primary responsibility is marketing and outreach. This has been extremely exciting for me. Continuing to educate families on our program’s importance while sharing the on-going services we provide to learning disabled adults is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever had the privilege of doing. Waking up daily knowing that we are providing safety, purpose and independence to individuals who never thought this was possible, what could be more fulfilling than that? Absolutely nothing.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I would have to say that my proudest moment would have to be spearheading our company’s marketing department and working alongside my FIL staff members. They are all wonderful human beings and I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to work with alongside them on a daily basis. We’re a family and our relationship makes this operation run smoothly. We set the tone for our residents and they feed off of our interaction with each other. I love working with this bunch.

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