Gregory Shadley: Iona is the friend that’s always there

April 24, 2018

Gregory Shadley had an eclectic career—first in the medical field, then at Tower Records, where he combined work with his passion for music, and finally as the sacristan at Georgetown University, responsible for the altar, vessels, and vestments used by the priests.

It’s at Georgetown where he started having health issues. It’s a long, scary list that includes diabetes, a pulmonary embolism, and, more recently, multiple strokes. He’s 62.

Gregory’s been fortunate to have had stable housing for 12 years. But, his basement apartment can only be accessed by eight steps. In order to get his groceries down the steps, Gregory has to move the bags slowly, one at a time, so he doesn’t lose his balance. In the past year, he’s had five falls that resulted in head trauma.

Clearly, living in an inaccessible basement apartment is not ideal. Gregory receives government disability benefits. But after paying rent and basic necessities, there is little left over. “When I was younger, I never imagined I’d go on disability. I never imagined I’d retire early because of my health. I was completely blindsided.”

However, when he counts his blessings, he starts with Iona.

Feeling overwhelmed by his health, housing, and financial challenges, Gregory reached out to Iona. Right away, Iona assigned a case manager to help Gregory navigate the complex world of local and federal benefits—many of which he didn’t know he could get.

With Iona’s assistance, Gregory applied for food stamps, a reduced Metro fare card, a rental rebate, a home health aide, a DC identification card, and a free “Safelink” phone. (When he had previously fallen, there was no
way to call for help because he couldn’t afford a phone.)

In addition, his case manager told him about the subsidized apartments for seniors at St. Mary’s Court in Foggy Bottom and helped him fill out an application.

The waiting list is long, but he’s willing to wait for an accessible apartment. Gregory feels it’s the best option. It will bring his rent down considerably and he won’t have to navigate any steps to get to his apartment.

“Without Iona, I wouldn’t have known about St. Mary’s Court—or how to apply,” he says. “Iona is the friend that’s always there.”