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Organization helps people with disabilities regain normalcy during coronavirus isolation

Updated: Apr. 10, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The coronavirus pandemic has caused stress and anxiety for so many people but especially those with disabilities.

“It’s affecting my anxiety pretty well. I’m out of work. I work in the restaurant industry, so I’m not currently going into work right now,” Community Options client Alex McAbee said. “I was overly anxious, overwhelmed, stressed out at the same time.”

The Summerville office for Community Options provides residential and employment support to Alex and 35 other individuals with disabilities.

The office’s executive director said the crisis has been taxing on everybody, from clients to staff.

“Everybody’s daily routine being changed. Some of our guys can’t go to work. They can’t go to day programs. They can’t go out,” Alan Rose said. “In most cases behaviors usually occur or depression may occur because they are used to a particular routine and they enjoy going to work. They enjoy going in the community and unfortunately at this particular time that’s been taken away.”

Staff members are having to get creative to find activities to keep their clients active. They’ve turned games, cook outs, and rides around town into activities to keep their clients as productive as possible during this time of isolation

“Alex just received a job from McAllister’s. He was so excited, and he was working probably 24 hours a week, and he loved being in the community and he loved working, and now that’s just been cut off completely,” Rose said. “It doesn’t seem like anyone’s going to be going back to work anytime soon until we get a handle on this spread especially in South Carolina.”

Community Options is located in 10 states and employees over 4,000 people. Rose has been in contact with the offices of Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Joe Cunningham. Rose said their staffs have been helping the non-profit organization navigate how to get the support they need. That could come in the form of grants.

Rose said the biggest obstacles though have been the unknown and fear surrounding the coronavirus.

“It’s been a fear factor, and we’ve tried to eliminate some of that through humor and having a good time. We send donuts over to all the houses for all the staff and the people we serve as well. We’ll be doing a pizza party coming up relatively soon. So, we’re trying to have some sense of normalcy during these unprecedented times,” Rose said.

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