Freedom to Live His Own Life

Carolyn Doughty always knew that her son DJ would push the limits.

“He’s always been a go-getter,” she said.

But when you live in a high-crime, big-city neighborhood where your son is threatened with violence and taken advantage of because of his disability, your fears for his health and safety rise to a different level.

DJ struggled as a child in Chicago but always found his way. He graduated from high school and worked at a local grocery store for three years. But not long after DJ’s 21st birthday, Carolyn knew something had to change.

DJ at work

“He was very fast and impulsive,” Carolyn said of the last time her son lived at home. “That was the scariest thing for me. Going out and looking for him was hard.”

You see, DJ loves to explore and he would often leave home without telling Carolyn. He wandered the streets by himself. He was threatened several times and even faced real physical harm. He made some mistakes and got involved with the wrong crowd – people who took advantage of him.

“I hung out with the wrong crowd at the wrong time,” DJ said, honestly reflecting on his early 20s. “It got to be a little too unsafe for me.”

Thankfully, Carolyn knew to look for help and she found Mosaic.

“My friend and I looked into at least 10 residential programs before I decided I would send DJ to Mosaic,” she said.

DJ started out in a group home with other men his age at Mosaic in Macomb, about a three-and-a-half hour train ride from his mom. Once he was in an environment where he felt safe, he started to blossom.

“As he proved himself they gave him more freedom,” Carolyn said.

Eventually, DJ was able to move into his own apartment, where he continued to push his own limits. He became a decorated Special Olympian, tested out several different jobs and made tons of friends with staff and other members of the community. He also made the train ride to visit his mom, whom he calls his hero, as often as he could.

With that kind of affection between mother and son, it was natural for DJ to want to move closer to his mom. Mosaic helped him move to Pontiac, which cuts down his time on the train by almost two hours.

Today, he lives in his own apartment and works as a fry cook at a local fast food restaurant. He also saved up enough money to buy his own car and hopes to get his driver’s license next spring.

“It’s something that I want to accomplish for me and prove to myself that I can do it,” DJ said.

Thanks to Mosaic’s support, Carolyn knows that DJ will be safe and supported, but can still reach his dreams.

“A mom has to be sure that her child is going to be well cared for, loved and understood for who he is,” she said. “I trusted that would be the case at Mosaic.”

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