Young man spraying flowers with water

Meet Colleen Costello: A Trailblazer Here at DDI!

DDI wishes to cap off our March celebration of both Women’s History Month and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by introducing Colleen Costello, a woman with developmental disabilities who has made history right here at DDI.


Years ago, Colleen was DDI’s first-ever resident to live independently in a home equipped with assistive smart technology. Here, Colleen writes in her own words the importance of living a life of independence and the joy that comes with being an active member of the community.

Hello, my name is Colleen Costello. I live by myself in my own apartment equipped with smart technology and supported by the staff at DDI.

Before moving out on my own, I lived at a DDI residence with two other girls for over 20 years. It took a lot of hard work for me to become independent. I had to learn about strangers and who to open and not open the door for. I learned how to do my own medication, laundry, cleaning and some cooking. I love having my own apartment that is decorated just how I like.

Since COVID happened, I haven’t been able to go to work and I miss it, but I should be going back soon. I have been doing a lot of other things to fill up my days. I do my COVID cleaning in my apartment everyday so there are no germs. I go out almost every day.

I do my recycling and I like to save that money to go away with. I do my own my laundry every week. I go and stay at my mom’s sometimes for the weekends and I take the SCAT bus by myself there and back. I have also been going to the Target and Stop and Shop by my apartment alone in the SCAT bus to do shopping for my apartment. I have a membership at the YMCA and I go workout there a few times a week and am also in a swim fitness class there every Monday morning. I love it! If I don’t go to the YMCA I will do fitness at home or walk to the clubhouse. I’ve also been trying meditation and my staff got me an app on my cell phone that I use everyday to practice this.

I love writing and I got a new cellphone so my staff taught me how to use the notes on my phone so I can write on there and always have it with me. I cook dinner with my staff almost every night unless I am going out to eat, and I am trying to cook dinner by myself. I make breakfast, lunch and snacks all by myself. I got a debit card a few months ago and like using that. I am learning how to keep better track of money now that I don’t have the cash to count. I still ledger all my receipts.

There are certain times every day when I am home alone and I get to be independent. I’ll do my chores or relax in my living room and watch my shows on Netflix. My favorite show is Heartland. I go to the library for different activities and get to meet new people and it’s nice. I’m planning to go on a vacation to Rhode Island with staff over the summer. I just went and spent the night in the city in a pretty hotel.  I ate dinner at an Italian restaurant and saw a show on Broadway! I took the train; it was so much fun!

I learned how to do fire drills by myself and am practicing filling out the fire drill form as well. I also took a plane by myself coming back from Maine from my sister’s house and I liked being independent and feeling like a grown up. I think Women’s History Month is important because how much hard work we all do. I am happy that DDI has helped me become independent and live a good life.