Supported Living Services: A Lifelong Commitment to Support
We sat down with Neerod Haddad Hawkins and Jorge Preciado, the Directors of Southern California Supported Living, to learn about what motivates them and learn about what makes Supported Living at Jay Nolan so valuable to the people receiving services.
What are the services you offer in Supported Living?
Neerod: Supported Living is a service that supports adults with developmental disabilities to live in their own home, along with accessing, engaging and developing connections/relationships within their community. Supported Living looks different for each person, the level of support is unique and individualized based on their goals and aspirations. We’re supporting people to live the lives that they choose. We are committed to empowering individuals to make their own choices along with engaging the world around while sharing their unique gifts and talents.
Jorge: I would say that a vital part of Supported Living is the individual’s circle of support where everyone in that circle comes together to provide foundational support so they may achieve their dreams. The goal is to assist the supported individual to live as independently as possible.
What is your proudest accomplishment during your time as a Director for Jay Nolan?
Neerod: It’s experiencing the journey with the people we work for, watching them grow and achieve their goals, and pushing themselves outside their comfort zone. It is about walking alongside people as they go through the journey of life and explore what is meaningful to them. It is the commitment we have to each other as circle members, through someone’s successes and life challenges.
We will be there to support each other, such as when a supported individual is enduring a difficult time, such as cancer –which is difficult for everyone involved. But after walking alongside that person through chemo and tests, to then come out on the other side, is an extremely proud moment! We’ve made a commitment to every person that whether it’s good or bad, we will figure this out with you. There is something beautiful about that process and experience.
“It is the commitment we have to each other as circle members, through someone’s successes and life challenges.” – Director Neerod Haddad Hawkins
Jorge: Knowing that support is being provided every single day. Seeing colleagues grow and seeing our staff grow, that makes me proud. Being a part of the life of the person we support and their growth, all that makes me proud! It is important for me to remember why I am here: for the people Jay Nolan supports and for the mission. Jay Nolan takes care of each other, which can be seen in an individual’s circle of support. The pride comes in building relationships with families of supported individuals, staff, and even landlords.
What is the most difficult challenge you are facing at the moment?
Neerod: The most difficult challenge that Supported Living faces right now is affordable housing. Finding housing can be extremely difficult and preserving individual’s living situations can be challenging at the same time. Much of the success we have had in securing housing is attributed to building quality relationships with landlords. Securing safe housing in good communities is vital.
Jorge: Another recognizable challenge in Supported Living is the rates that the state helps to fund Jay Nolan to be able to provide premium services. The amount of funding and the rates hasn’t caught up with the cost of living, then you add the housing situation, and it gets worse. The challenge lies in the increasing cost of living and the funding that we as an agency receive. The demand for affordable housing is so prominent, and relationship building with landlords can only go so far.
What do you see as the future of your department in 10 years?
Neerod: In a single word: Expansion! Expansion in the sense of diversity in who Jay Nolan supports in Supported Living. I would like to see the ongoing efforts of JNCS to diversify in Supported Living.
Jorge: I would also like to see improvement in rates and housing for supported individuals. I also hope to see in 10 or 15 years’ time introducing Supported Living internationally. The ultimate goal is to keep providing services day in and day out. That is the value of Supported Living. We can actually tell families: “Don’t worry: we’ve got it. Even after you’re gone, we’ll make sure that your family member is valued, is respected, and they’re going to be loved.”
“Don’t worry: we’ve got it. Even after you’re gone, we’ll make sure that your family member is valued, is respected, and they’re going to be loved.” -Director Jorge Preciado
Click here to learn more about Supported Living at Jay Nolan Community Services
Neerod Haddad Hawkins holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development from CSUN. Before coming to JNCS, she worked in non-profit management for over five years, including working at the Los Angeles Unified School District as a Site Coordinator for an afterschool program. Neerod has been with JNCS since 2009 where she started as a supervisor. This work is close to her heart as her brother and other family members have disabilities. She quickly fell in love with advocating for the endless movement to support and empower people to live the lives they desire and deserve.
Jorge Preciado has a diverse background in many difference fields, but always focused on service to his community. He has worked in food service and tackled every position in the kitchen for Saint Joseph’s Hospital. He first joined JNCS working as a Home Support Worker and Job Coach then advanced to Lead Staff, then Community Living Coordinator. After a short break, he returned to join the Human Resources Training Department as Training Specialist then advanced to his current position as Director. This year he is celebrating 25 years total with the agency.