LOUISVILLE, Ky. — No one has worked at Kayrouz Cafe longer than Matt Ridings. “I’ve been working here since 2007,” said Ridings. “I like the dishwasher because I’ve done it for a long time.”
College for Living empowering adults with disabilities to live on their own
Dishwashing is his primary role, but he finds plenty of time to make new friends at work.
“After we finish here, I have to wait for my Uber,” he shared.
It’s a new routine for Ridings. He’s the newest resident at the College for Living, a program that provides independent living with support for people living with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
The goal is to empower residents to transition into independent living. The Day Springs program gives residents the experience of living on their own in apartments that are steps away from one-on-one support, weekly classes and mentors.
It’s the 50-year-old’s first time living in his own apartment and away from his mother. Sometimes he misses being close to family. “I don’t know why because I’m afraid of losing someone,” said Ridings. “My mom just had a heart attack.”
He said his mom is recovering well and they talk and visit often.
“That’s Daniel. I met him through softball,” Ridings shared, pointing at a picture on his refrigerator. Daniel Noltemeyer is his friend and College for Living neighbor. Attending life skills and wellness classes on campus with his friend helps with his homesickness and gaining independence.
“I’m really happy that Matt got a chance to be in College for Living because I met Matt through Best Buddies and I can tell that Matt is a good influence to be part of College of Living and the rest of my neighbors is too,” said Noltemeyer.
Noltemeyer has been living on the campus for five years.
“The College for Living gives me more opportunity to focus on my dreams. I finally did that because they want to me to focus on what I’m capable of doing for my future,” said Noltemeyer.
After classes, Ridings puts the skills he learns in the kitchen master course to the test. “It takes three minutes to cook. I know it by heart,” said Ridings. “You have to wait one to two minutes before you start eating. My mouth will be burned. I do not like burned mouth,” he said.
Ridings has been living on his own for three months. “It feels good. I feel like getting used to living with that.” Though he loves his new home, it’s just a stop on his path to independence.
The College for Living serves up to six residents at a time for four to seven years, depending on their individual needs and progress.