Shannon – Living Independently With Confidence

June 16, 2021
Shannon in her apartment with picture of flowers behind her

I’m so excited to share this month’s Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch Resident Spotlight on Shannon! The first things I noticed about Shannon when I met her for the first time were her bold personality and confidence. Shannon is both a resident at Irby Ranch and an employee of Sunflower Hill. As the organization’s Administrative Assistant since 2019, Shannon performs administrative tasks for many different departments. “I like working here a lot,” she said. Shannon is very confident about her wants and needs and communicates them well. As a coworker, I’m impressed with her work ethic. As a resident and participant in our Irby Ranch programs, Shannon displays great leadership skills during activities and is always willing to help out if needed. Shannon lists her strengths as: being responsible, being a good leader, creative, social, caring, helpful, and positive.

Shannon decorating sugar cookies with sprinklesShannon enjoys arts and crafts, going for walks, and going to Starbucks. “I love Starbucks Frappuccino’s,” she said. She also loves going to Bob’s Giant Burger, saying that “their burger and fries are good! And if you like ice cream, it’s amazing! I always get a chocolate and Oreo shake!” Shannon enjoys meeting and hanging out with people and making new friends. She’s made many new friends at Irby Ranch. “I think I’m a good listener,” she said. Shannon used to participate in Special Olympics and would like to get back into it once COVID-19 restrictions allow. She also loves watching TV and listening to Christian, oldies, and 80s dance party music.

On Living Independently

Shannon has been living independently for about 11 years and is a great resource for other residents at Irby Ranch. Prior to moving into Irby Ranch, she lived in a group home for five years before moving into an independent community in Pleasanton where she lived for six years. When she first transitioned to independent living, she admits that she was very nervous and scared, and relied on friends to come over and support her emotionally. With the support of family and friends, she slowly got used to living at first with roommates and then by herself. She says that she has learned a lot while living independently. She has learned how to reach out for help when she needs it, how to advocate for herself and create a support network, and how to create a “self-help” list to do things on her own. Doing these things has made everyday life easier and happier.

Shannon holding the key to her apartment in her kitchen at Irby RanchFor Shannon, living independently means she can be on her own and “make my own decisions without asking for permission.” In additions, independence allows her to “go places by myself, like grocery shopping or taking buses.”

In addition to the skills she learned early on, Shannon has a few recommendations for people who are wishing to live independently:

  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for help!”
  • “Get to know your surroundings and neighbors.”
  • “Have a support system that you can rely on when feeling down or lost – even stuffed animals work!”

On Living at Irby Ranch

Shannon has been living at Irby Ranch since late last year and loves her apartment. “I like how it was brand new,” she said. She chose to enter the lottery for an apartment at Irby Ranch to have a new experience living in a new community – “starting fresh!” She also loves many of the features of her apartment and community. “I love how there are ceiling fans,” she said. “I like the view. I can see the sports court and the courtyard!” She enjoys having a first-floor apartment and is happy she lives in Pleasanton so she is close to her mom who lives nearby.

Shannon in her apartmentMoving into her new apartment and making that transition during the pandemic was tough. “I had to downsize a lot and donate a lot of my things,” she said. “But now I like it. I love my new furniture. I keep everything nice and clean.” Shannon’s mom and friend have been very helpful in making the space feel and look like a home. It’s “my own sanctuary,” she said.

Shannon enjoys hanging out in the Irby Ranch courtyard, getting to see friends and meet other residents. She recently realized that one of her neighbors at Irby Ranch used to be a neighbor at the apartment community she lived at previously. “How amazing,” she exclaimed. She’s made many new friends and is excited to have been invited to multiple social gatherings.

Shannon really enjoys participating in and being a part of the in-person and virtual activities at Irby Ranch. As a confident resident who has been living independently for many years, her perspective and helpful nature is a great support during activities.

Shannon sitting on the couch with her two dogs
Shannon with her two dogs.
Shannon holding a paper and giving a thank you speech upon graduating from her internship program.
Shannon giving a thank-you speech upon graduating from her internship program.
Shannon and her mom standing in front of a carousel
Shannon and her mom.
Shannon receiving her COVID vaccine
Shannon receiving her COVID vaccine at the Irby Ranch vaccine clinic.
Shannon celebrating with a cupcake and a gift in her hand
Shannon celebrating a special day.
Shannon and her family sitting at a table outside, eating at a restaurant.
Shannon and her family.
Shannon standing in front of a wall with sunflowers and donor names printed on glass.
Shannon standing in front of the donor wall in the Irby Ranch community room.

Thoughts on the Pandemic

Like many of us, Shannon admits that living with the restrictions due to the pandemic have been challenging. “The pandemic made me (feel) down and isolated. It also made me feel very alone,” she said. She missed participating in social activities like R.A.D.D. and her Friday Friends Group. Shannon did a lot of walking to enjoy the weather and exercise when she could. While she understands the importance of wearing masks, she is looking forward to “getting done” with masks in 2021! Even though it’s been difficult to wear a mask, she has constantly reminded herself that by following through with the mandate, she is protecting herself and others, ensuring that the return to a no-mask lifestyle will be sooner rather than later.

Plans for 2021 & Beyond

With 2021 halfway over, Shannon has already accomplished one of her main goals for the year. She was very happy to receive her COVID-19 vaccination back in April. “I’m glad that I was able to get it here at Irby Ranch,” she said. “Just one shot!” She also hopes to go back to college soon to study Nutrition. She would like to attend a community college nearby and in-person. She also plans to spend more time working on her art projects – especially anything with butterflies. During our interview, Shannon and I discovered that we share a mutual love for butterflies. “I have butterfly t-shirts, a mask, and a jacket,” she shared. I can’t wait to see them and hope to join her in creating butterfly artwork in 2021!

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Story by: Pratimajit Kaur, Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch Residential Programs Manager
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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