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Pine Castle helps woman overcome intellectual differences

February 11, 2019

Pine Castle, a United Way partner, is a leader in serving adults with intellectual and other differences and providing support to their families across Northeast Florida. Whether it’s teaching a new social or self-care skill, providing group activities, offering vocational training, providing comfortable group homes, or helping with a job search – everything they do supports a single goal: empower people to achieve their highest potential.

When Jessica arrived at Pine Castle in 2013, she lived with her parents. Soon after, she moved into Pine Castle’s secure residential Group Home program, a community group home that fosters the growth of participants’ self-reliance and helps them prepare for safe, independent living. Inspired by the support in her new surroundings, Jessica’s personality blossomed. Her overall emotional well-being improved, and her ability to engage in the community soared. It was clear she had the capacity for more independent living.

Today, she continues to thrive in her independence. Fluent in American Sign Language, when you ask Jessica about what she likes best about Pine Castle, her enthusiasm is evident when she signs, “Computer lab, safety patrol, and living in my Group Home.”

Always friendly with a bright smile, Jessica is a positive presence on campus and among her Group Home family. According to Janice, Group Home manager, “Jessica always takes the initiative to be supportive around the home, whether helping in the kitchen or lending a hand to assist other housemates on and off their transportation van.”

Jessica takes her role on Pine Castle’s Safety Patrol seriously, too. She enthusiastically greets guests at special events on campus and readily points out an area of concern when something doesn’t look quite right to her. Jessica is also a hard worker in Pine Castle Workshop 17 and eagerly takes on her on-campus employment assignments. “I love working at Pine Castle!” Jessica exclaims.

During her leisure time, Jessica enjoys reading recipe books, helping in the kitchen, watching TV and cuddling her favorite Pokemon companion, Pikachu. Like many of us, her favorite food is pizza. Pine Castle is very proud of Jessica and delighted to share in her life.

Thanks to Pine Castle’s partnership with United Way of Northeast Florida and others, Pine Castle is able to provide more than 300 individuals with intellectual and developmental differences like Jessica with life-changing opportunities to learn, work, and connect through our dynamic Adult Day Training and Campus Employment programs.

How you can help

With the support of United Way, agencies like Pine Castle are able to help individuals and families in Northeast Florida have hope and reach their full potential. Through the power of partnerships, we support vulnerable individuals of all ages by funding programming focused on sustainable housing, social safety net systems, gender equality and the fight to end hunger. To learn how you can join United Way in the fight for community change, visit unitedwaynefl.org/get-involved.