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Human Interest Story

SILO Helps Dawn Cookler Remain Safely in Her Home
When Dawn Cookler happened to walk into SILO’s offices in 2009, she had no idea that she was taking the first step toward changing her life. Dawn never considered herself disabled. Yet, coping with cerebral palsy, all on her own, was becoming more and more difficult and even dangerous. "SILO has worked with me for the past five years so I can live independently in my home. Don’t be afraid to ask for help," Dawn says.

An Able Person with a Disability
Dawn is quite able, with a master’s degree and an active lifestyle. However, she used to fall a lot, especially in the shower. "It was really dangerous. The police knew my name because I called them when I kept falling," Dawn says.

Tough Times
Though Dawn was working, she found it difficult to pay her rent, especially as her medical expenses grew. When she first spoke with SILO staff, she was hesitant about utilizing the many resources available for people with disabilities. Yet, she knew she could not go on falling all the time. SILO staff referred her to a case manager who helped her apply for Medicare, Medicaid, and, most importantly, a home health aid. "If it wasn’t for the home health aids, I would probably be in a nursing home," Dawn says.

In addition to referral and peer counseling, SILO coordinates services for Medicaid recipients at risk of entering a nursing home, or those wanting to leave one. The program is called the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) Waiver. "Bonnie from SILO told me she could get me a grant for housing, and I didn’t know anything about it. My parents taught me to get a job and live on my own," Dawn explains. "Thanks to SILO, I use many community resources," she adds.
Dawn is especially thankful to have support for her health care needs, now that her medical conditions have worsened. Frequent, long-lasting, and severe bouts of vertigo make it difficult to stand, read, or write for any length of time. She also has memory problems that she believes were caused by a medication.

Making Dawn’s Home Wheelchair-Accessible
Though Dawn used crutches in the past, she now uses a wheelchair. As part of her services under the NHTD Waiver, workers installed a ramp, grab bars, a lift for the bathtub, and an electric door at her home. "They got me all this stuff so I wouldn’t live in such a dangerous situation anymore," Dawn says.

Staying out of the Nursing Home
Dawn knows all too well what life can be like in a nursing home. In December of 2012, her vertigo became constant, and she spent the next few months mostly lying down in the nursing home. Luckily, her condition improved so that she no longer needed that level of constant care. She left in March of 2013, and she never wants to go back. SILO’s services have made it possible for her to live alone in her own apartment.
Friends Support Each Other at SILO
Dawn also socializes with friends at SILO. "I walk into SILO, and people make me feel welcome. Joe, the executive director, listens to you also," Dawn says. One time, Dawn saw a lady crying in the corner at a SILO technology fair. The lady said she had just had a stroke and was unable to walk the floor at the fair. "I got the information for her, and I started helping her. She said I was her first friend since her stroke. Everyone helps each other at SILO," Dawn says.
Dawn’s Active Lifestyle
Today, because of SILO, Dawn lives in a home that is wheelchair-accessible, and she is also active in her community, thanks to the Suffolk County Accessible Transit (Scat) bus. Her pastimes include working out, swimming, and attending a temple and social functions. She also speaks to groups about disability awareness. In short, she can go anywhere that is wheelchair-accessible, as long as she can rest whenever the vertigo recurs. "I believe that with God and the support of my dad and friends, I can get through anything," Dawn says.

human interest

Dawn Cookler

Suffolk Bus