KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Sertoma Center of Knoxville opened the door to employment for Chris Arwood.
The 25-year-old works at two locations of Summit Medical Group, cleaning up under the supervision of his job coach, Idris Ibraheem.
"Idris is the best job coach I ever had because Idris has already been there for me," Chris Arwood said.
He enjoys his tasks including sweeping, watering plants and cleaning the parking lot.
Dargie Arwood and her husband were foster parents in the 1990s before adopting children with special needs. She said Chris had shaken baby syndrome.
"And the day that I knew that there was a need and that there was a baby in a hospital that didn't have a place to go, I couldn't say no. And I didn't think about what this would look like 20 or 25 years from now," Dargie Arwood said.
Caring for adults with intellectual disabilities requires a different skill set. Dargie is grateful for support from Sertoma Center.
"My husband and I had a role reversal in May. He retired and I went to work full time at Sertoma as a residential coordinator. He was home with Mark by himself and he said I did not realize how hard this is," she said.
Starting in March, after work Chris will be able to head to his new house, a duplex built by Sertoma where he'll live with his brother, Mark.
"He is profound intellectually disabled. He doesn't talk. He does walk now and run. He doesn't feed himself," Dargie said. "But he is a character. He enjoys life. He loves music."
Chris said, "He likes music and so do I so that's a thing we have in common."
They'll soon have a new home in common. Sertoma Center is waiting on cabinets before putting in the floor but construction is almost complete.
It will be the 41st Sertoma residence. Almost a hundred people live in homes with the help of house managers.
For Mark, 22, it is an opportunity to live with his brother and get the extra care he needs.
"Their caregivers, they are so wonderful with them. They know my boys. They know what their needs are, they know what they like. So it's amazing," Dargie said. "It's important for Mark to have people who love him and Christopher does love him. They're real close."
They're really close to living together in a brand new home built by Sertoma,
Sertoma Center of Knoxville will host a volunteer landscaping day at the duplex in March.
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