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Making a House a Home
May 8, 2013
Making a House a Home

Posted by Jon Federman

Wilson House residents“This changes everything in her life. Now she can live on her own, independently, for the rest of her life.”    
 - Bruce, father of a JF&CS housing resident.

“My husband and I see her living as independent a life as she possibly can through this opportunity and she’s happy about it. Without JF&CS, we would have 30 more years of those Saturday nights with Jess at home instead of with her new family of friends.”    
- Carole, mother of a JF&CS housing resident.

For young adults with developmental disabilities, leaving a special education program to enter the adult world can be overwhelming. Recent, more stringent regulations on group homes, as well as a troubled economy, make “leaving the nest” seem like an almost impossible feat. Although many young adults with developmental disabilities might be ready to move away from their parents, financial realities and a lack of feasible options force many to remain at home with mom and dad. Instead of following the more typical paths to independence, young adults with disabilities can actually become more dependent upon their parents because there are so few community activities.

The newest JF&CS house is the product of a collaboration between JF&CS and a local property developer. The house is a big one, with nine private bedrooms, plus large common areas and kitchens for socializing. Staff is available every day, including overnight supervision by live-in JF&CS staff. Housing and services are funded by each resident’s social security benefit and MassHealth funding for some staffing. Each resident also has a case manager and an agency nurse visits regularly as well.

Amazingly, the project went from idea to reality in just a few months. The builder, who also owns the “Yellow House,” a residence built in 2010 and houses eight adults, met with Program Director Doreen Cummings to discuss the possibility of creating another home. In order to gauge family interest, an informational meeting and open house was held in September 2012, and the enthusiasm was overwhelming. Construction began almost immediately.

While the construction crew was busy getting the home ready for occupancy, Doreen and Sara Freedman, who manages the day-to-day operations of these projects, were busily engaged in assessing prospective clients to ensure that their needs could be met in this setting as well as recruiting and training many personnel. By January 2013, the first residents were moving in. “Housing has such an impact on a person’s life,” noted Doreen. “These people would otherwise have lived at home with their parents for another 25 years until their parents were gone or too old to take care of them.”

It was a “win-win situation,” Doreen added, “For JF&CS, families, and landlord.”

Jon FedermanJon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.

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