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Disability Network Southwest Michigan

2019 Bob Davis Independent Living Award

Each year Disability Network Southwest Michigan presents the Bob Davis Independent Living Award to a customer who shows exemplary progress in overcoming barriers to reach their independent living goals. This year, the Bob Davis Independent Living Award was presented to John Gooch, a fifty-three year old man with an amputation who was living in a nursing facility after having a stroke.

man in red shirt on balcony holding award

John was homeless at the time he had a stroke. As he recovered from the stroke he wanted to move out of the nursing facility and live independently; however, he had no home to return to and he had no income. Our Nursing Facility Transition staff worked with John to apply for Social Security Disability benefits so that he would have income. He was initially denied and our staff continued to assist him in navigating through the appeal process and he was eventually approved.

Now with a source of income, John had the option of moving to his own home. Disability Network staff then worked with John in identifying appropriate housing that met his needs and completing housing applications. When John moved to his new home, Disability Network utilized Nursing Facility Transition service funds to purchase furniture, household supplies, and linens. Staff also assisted John in getting his medications set up to be delivered to him on a monthly basis.

John utilized Disability Network’s travel training program so that he could access transportation to travel in his community. John is living independently in his apartment with the freedom to navigate his community via public transit and the security of having a source of income to live on. 

John enjoys baseball, music, spending time with friends, and cooking which he did professionally for 37 years at restaurants in the Kalamazoo area. He is known for his award winning chili which he is now cooking again. John spends time in the community, cruising around in his powered wheelchair, and bowling regularly. The Bob Davis Independent Living Award is given in memory of Bob Davis, son of Al and Kay Davis, who was involved in a vehicle accident and sustained a brain and spinal cord injury.  He lived independently, attended the Brain Injury Survivors Support Group and overcame obstacles to achieve independence.