It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!


Therapy Garden at Fircrest



Today was a wonderful day in the neighborhood.  I have been volunteering frequently in the community gardens at my son’s supported community.  As I spend more and more time on campus I see more and more how strong and supportive the community is.

Today I had 5 residents from 3 different houses helping fill the watering cans from the rain barrels that have been collecting rain water, planting peas, parsley, carrots, and watering the strawberry plants that we planted last week in the new strawberry field.  In addition to this we all sampled several varieties of the tasty greens that we are growing – the favorite is the Ruby Streaks Mustard Greens and the Tatsoi – an Asian green that is crisp and mild.

We then cleaned spruced up some gardens which have a huge dill plant and then weeded around the raspberry plants which are rejuvenating.  Next on the list was to water the blueberry grove which also has lots of onions and garlic growing around the perimeter.  It’s great that some of the residents have really taken on ownership of these gardens and the watering!

While I was there today I know that residents from two households were going to go to movies – different movies at different theaters and some others were going to go out for dinner.  Many were out walking and enjoying the weather and it always amazes me that everyone knows everyone else and they watch out for each other.

I also witnessed a support team call  – in this community there is always the opportunity at any moment for a crisis to erupt given the high intensity and support needs of most of the residents here.  When a support team call goes out there is extra staff that respond from various houses to the house in need to add extra support to manage whatever crisis has or is occurring.   When there is this type of support in a community it alleviates the need to call 911 for police to respond because the staff are familiar with the residents and are trained to manage the types of behaviors which typically cause a crisis.

It is shameful that many people, included those who call themselves advocates for people with developmental disabilities, push to close these supportive communities.  One reason they do this is because they are clueless as to the benefits of a supportive community for those who need this level of care.  They call these communities “institutions” because they have not visited recently and have a pre-conceived ideas in their head that if these residents were dispersed, away from their friends and supports, they would be much better off!  They use incomplete information to say that the supportive communities are too expensive.

It’s such a shame that those who push to close these supportive communities refuse to visit and refuse to look at complete and accurate data regarding the cost, supports and services – comprehensive and cost effective and SAFE!

I do know that I enjoy spending time at my son’s community.  It truly is a “neighborhood” where everyone knows your name!










4 comments on “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

  1. terrya2012 says:

    And this is how some of us who work in supported employment feel about sheltered workshops, it should be choice for both the individual and their families. For some it is reality.


    • I totally agree – without sheltered workshops there would be a huge gap in the continuum of care for many of our most vulnerable citizens. Both the words “Sheltered Workshop”: and “institution” have preconceived and mostly false perceptions of what the reality of these are. The sheltered workshop that I have witnessed and the one in which my son works when he is not in school is really a supportive employment. The institution is really a supportive community. Those who push to close these much needed care situations come from antiquated times. I have not met one person who has visited recently and who has seen the reality of the situation state that they should close.

      I have invited many, many who are against a continuum of care, to visit and they refuse. They say they have visited – yes maybe they have – many years ago and not with a family member or with a resident – that is how they ought to visit. They won’t though – I think they do not want to open their eyes and they don’t want to see.


  2. rootie56 says:

    The “institution” where I work is anything but. Our kids are not “isolated” or “segregated” from the community. In fact, they have more community interaction here than they would in a private home when the parental caregiver is struggling to find services and supports. I agree about the cost misinformation. Parents who have their kids at home have often had to give up a chuck of their income so that one of them can stay at home and care for their child. Or, even if they do work, if the nurse doesn’t show up one day, the parent has to take sick leave st stay home. Add in all those hidden costs: income lost, frustration & aggravation in getting reimbursed, the costs (above & beyond what Medicaid pays for) of high-priced equipment/supplies, home modifications, transportation, etc., and the cost differential seems to diminish. It IS expensive to have a child in a **high-quality** congregate care setting because we are able to give our kids a quality of life that is very difficult (or impossible if the parents live in a rural area) to achieve at home.
    ps – I Am going to call you when I come up for air.


  3. I wholeheartedly agree! Everyone on campus knows my son’s name and he knows their name due to the longevity of staff. So many families who need care or who are genuinely concerned about this unique special needs population — especially the ones with dual diagnoses and extremely challenging behavior — miss out knowing the staff expertise and knowledge of the longstanding staff in dealing with difficult and challenging behaviors. I suspect at some point, however, the political pendulum will swing back and congregate care will once again be supported. I’m reading WAY too many news stories of substandard care in generic community care cottage industry settings across our nation. That’s not to say there aren’t good ones out there. I’m sure they exist. It’s just sad when empty beds sit unoccupied in excellent facilities that could easily be used by families in dire straits. The stories of severe neglect and abuse in substandard community settings (the new mom/pop cottage industry) is disheartening.


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