LIFE Stories: Amanda and Stephanie, roommates for LIFE
It can often be a challenge for new roommates to find the right balance in sharing living space, but LIFE residents Amanda Church and Stephanie Polito seem to have it figured out.
Church has been living at LIFE for three years and Polito arrived two years ago. They room together in a ranch-style, two-bedroom condo in Mashpee.
“It’s a great place for having friends over,” said Church. “We’re very good about working out our space. We respect each other. I’m six years older, so I hope I can be a role model to her.”
“We have good communications skills and we have our boundaries, but we’re very friendly and laid-back,” added Polito. “We’ll go out together around Mashpee Commons or do our shopping together.”
Polito said it was important to build the relationship early on, even before they were living together.
“We didn’t know each other before we were assigned as roommates, but I advocated for talking to her and getting to know her the summer before moving in,” said Polito. “That made everything stress-free.”
A Worcester native, Polito came to the Cape to attend the Riverview School and then Cape Cod Community College through the Project Forward program, earning a teaching certificate. She’s now working at the Children’s Workshop in Bourne as a preschool teacher.
“I love seeing the kids smiling and learning,” Polito said. “Even when you’re having a bad day, they know how to make you smile.”
Polito applied to the job with the help of her LIFE employment counselor, who assisted her with her resume and interview skills.
“I’m a human services type of person,” said Polito. “I love working with people.”
She’s also had public speaking roles with Best Buddies and Easterseals and is part of the Riverview Alumni Board.
“She’s a social butterfly,” said Church, describing Polito. “She’s so nice and warm and caring.”
Church, who grew up in Easton, attended the Easton Public Schools. She now balances two jobs — working one day a week as a receptionist at LIFE and working three days as a hostess at the 99 Restaurant in Falmouth. She also volunteers as an activities assistant at Bridges by EPOCH at Mashpee, a memory care assisted living community.
“Every LIFE coach has one thing in common,” said Church. “That’s helping us to become more independent. They’re always there for you, even in the toughest times.”
Church is also active in Special Olympics, competing in swimming. She’s been swimming since she was a child and has been a Special Olympics athlete for the last 10 years. She attended the World Games in Los Angeles two years ago, bringing home silver and bronze medals.
“That was amazing,” said Church. “I couldn’t have gotten there without [LIFE Fitness and Athletics Director] Ian [Saarmann]’s help. He’s still always mentoring. That’s the beauty of the LIFE coaches.”
Church also plays basketball and soccer, slightly less competitively, and takes advantage of LIFE’s social activities.
“There’s so much to do to meet folks and so many activities going on,” she said.
Polito has been more active in the arts, joining a community theater group. She loves going to the beach, to the movies and out to dinner with friends.
“You get up every morning, do your daily routine, go to work and out with friends and family and lead the normal life that everyone should have,” Polito said. “I love it here. As a little girl, I would always vacation on the Cape, and now it’s my reality. I just love the scenery and the beaches. You can’t beat it.”
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Main office: LIFE, Inc., 550 Lincoln Road Extension, Hyannis, MA 02601
Living Independently Forever, Inc. is a non-profit with multiple locations throughout Southeast Massachusetts supporting adults with autism, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities in their pursuit of a happy, independent life.