Elijah Shannon opens the door to his new apartment and greets a friend from the hospital.
Elijah is living on his own for the first time. His smile and hugs are known throughout Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He has been a staple there since 2014 when he first joined as a student in the Project SEARCH program, which helps students with disabilities gain marketable job skills. After completing the 10-week program, he was thrilled to accept a position as a Child Life aide at the hospital where he now helps clean playrooms and picks up donations for patients.
He had an education, a job and was finally becoming independent. The last big step–a home of his own.
Theresa Lovelace, an administrative assistant in the Child Life department, is the friend at the door. Proud that Elijah found an apartment, she wants to ensure his success, so she enlists the help of the Child Life and social work teams.
“We really wanted to do something special for him because he really lights up everyone’s day,” Theresa says.
More than a dozen staff members come together to create a donation basket filled with laundry items, kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies and a grocery gift card while Elijah’s family plans an open house event for his friends to see his new place.
At the door, Theresa asks Elijah to help her carry in a couple gifts from the team.
He is ecstatic.
“Oh my goodness,” Elijah exclaims to his family. “Look what they got me!”
This time, the donation is for him.