Meet Andrew

Andrew with his dog, Bella
Andrew and Bella

Meet Andrew

Andrew lives in Astoria, Queens with his family. He is a friendly, kind, and humorous 24 year old who has many interests, including travel, folklore from different cultures, science fiction and paranormal events, dogs and other animals, and reading. He graduated from the Cooke Institute in 2019, as did his best friend, Justin. In Cooke’s SKILLS program, he learned how to apply for jobs but COVID-19 has delayed his efforts. He is working with a job recruiter, applying to museums and zoos, and learning how to take care of animals at a local pet shop. 

When Andrew was in Cooke’s SKILLS program, he talked about guardianship with his parents. After Andrew’s mother, Larissa, learned about Supported Decision-Making from a presentation by the Supported Decision-Making New York team at Cooke, she talked about it with Andrew. They saw Supported Decision-Making as a way for Andrew to keep his civil and legal rights, and they agreed that Andrew should go through the SDMNY process.

While making his Supported Decision-Making Agreement (SDMA), Andrew chose a number of his family members to be his Supporters for decisions he wants to make in different areas of his life, including health, travel, money, and technology. In 2018, he signed his SDMA with seven supporters. He felt happy during the ceremony because it was a moment of pride for him and he was able to maintain his civil and legal rights: “[My SDMA] is a chance for me to be independent and have people look at me as a person who makes his own decisions.” 

Andrew holding his SDMA, surrounded by supporters, family, and Joan Cornachio, at his signing ceremony

Andrew’s best friend, Justin, is in the process of getting his SDMA. Justin has chosen Andrew and Larissa as his supporters. Larissa says, “Being asked by Justin to be his supporter was a huge honor for me. I even got emotional and cried after he asked me.” For Justin’s 21st birthday, Justin made the decision to go to Las Vegas with Andrew, both of their fathers, and Andrew’s cousin. Andrew asked this cousin, also a supporter, to help him make decisions about travel arrangements for the trip. They stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, visited the location for the reality show Pawn Stars and other cultural spots, and laughed a lot. 

Andrew is a member of Supported Decision-Making New York’s Advisory Council and spoke at a presentation SDMNY made in Saratoga Springs, New York. While he was nervous to speak in front of people, he thinks more people should know about Supported Decision-Making so they can make decisions about their own lives.