A typical day for Jason Stastny begins with checking his calendar, and then starting his chores. As an adult living on his own with down syndrome, following those calendars is crucial to Jason’s success.

What You Need To Know

  • Seth has worked with Jason for seven years

  • Jason has down syndrome, but is able to live by himself

  • Seth and Jason volunteer at their local food pantry every Wednesday

“As long as someone can follow a routine, any type of routine, they can live independently,” says Seth Downen, a self-direction specialist with AccessCNY.

Seth is the man behind all of Jason's routines. The two have been together for seven years of hiking, bowling, knitting, and making friends. Some of the day-to-day activities change, but their favorite pastime is right across the street.

“I remember when I first started working with him, we met with somebody at community action," Seth says.  "We tried to get into volunteering and her first concern was the consistency.”

In Seth's eyes, it was a reasonable concern. Regardless, he and Jason have since made their consistency clear. Almost every Wednesday for the past five years, the two have lent a hand at their local food pantry.

“They’re totally reliable," says Suzanne Bartow, the food pantry coordinator. "I don’t know what I’d do without them really.”

They stock shelves, break down boxes, sometimes they even pick up deliveries an hour away. On slower days, Jason has time to makes hats that the pantry can give away for the winter.

Seth says the self-direction model he and Jason fall into can make a big difference for adults with special needs, but it isn’t perfect.

“When you have a neighbors that can knock on your door and say, ‘Hey come on, we’re going to bingo' - that’s where we need to be for the future of people living independently with disabilities," Seth says. “They need more supports than just people that are paid.”