Jul 22, 2022

It’s been 15 months since the Elder family purchased the property we now refer to as Brendon’s house. (This house is referred to in many ways and you can read about this unique space in a previous blog here.)  Since March, it houses Brendon, Peter, and Shaun…and their Community Mentor, Nate. 

Fourteen months ago, one month after we took possession of the home, Growing Roots—a day program serving almost 50 special needs adults—moved onto the property; goats, donkeys and all!

Sometimes it feels like it’s been years, not months. And then we remind ourselves that we’ve taken the road less traveled—and have possibly broken some speed limits along the way. 

Brendon is living his best life. He loves the horticultural and animal therapy that’s right outside his door…and he loves his friends. To us, these pictures capture amazing progress in Brendon’s life. Brendon cutting with a power tool? One year ago, this would have been unfathomable. If you have followed Brendon’s story you, like us, might have thought this never to be possible. 

He gets to see his friends and Jessica multiple days every week. We are so proud to partner with Growing Roots and host them on our campus. Please check out their website.

We’ve been told that Pete and Shaun (Brendon’s housemates) are thriving as well and we can’t begin to tell you how valuable Nate (their community mentor) is in making this possible. He ‘gets’ these guys, lets them be who they are, and encourages them to reach higher. 

We are currently in the beginning stages of a possible fourth housemate. Here is where we want to give a big shout-out to Sarena Ross, our Intake Coordinator, for taking on the task of interviewing housemates and their families with Nate.

We need to thank a few people for giving their time and skills to create a safe space for our guys and many visiting the campus. In alphabetical order, because there isn’t a fair way to do it:

  • Dave Gruber
  • Chris Ross
  • Ron Scott
  • Nate VanderMaas
  • Travis Wolthert

We’ve met with a few other special needs adult campuses similar to ours. None of them are exactly alike. Most are large campuses, house higher functioning adults, are production-oriented, and involve licensed homes, etc. Every housing arrangement has their own unique goal, and every last parent of a special needs adult is traveling a less traveled road to find the right space; even a space for their son or daughter. 

We’ve added Casey as the Campus Coordinator, working with the house as well as Growing Roots. We would be SO lost without her knowledge and passion. We also added Betsy as our house manager of sorts. She handles the cleaning and meal planning for our guys and it’s a relief for Nate to have the help. 

The budget could have benefited from a fourth housemate months ago, but we know the timing is Divine. These additional months have allowed us to figure out some things, change some things, and, frankly, get our act together. We have some work to do on the fourth bedroom: reframe the closet, drywall, add a window, etc. 

A new washing machine that didn’t fit through the doorway, a new dishwasher, new toilets etc. We’re learning our maintenance limits as we manage this not-so-gently used campus. While none of the repairs or improvements are difficult, construction is not our natural habitat and we are grateful to all those who continue to help us get these kinds of things done.

Beyond financial needs, we need a few other pieces to our puzzle.

  1. A handyman who can respond quickly if needed.
  2. Additional staffing: weekends, one weeknight, and respite.
  3. The fourth housemate: a right fit and family support.

If you have room on your prayer list we would be grateful for your prayer in these ways!

There is a stark and alarming shortage of spaces that provide both housing and purpose for adults with disabilities precisely because there isn’t a prescribed method for making it happen. If housing arrangements could make money or even break-even that the supply of housing would meet the demand But it doesn’t. 

And so we will need to raise support each year. This year’s financial need includes $10,000 to catch up on the start-up staffing costs, as well as another $10,000 for some leasehold improvements (septic, electrical, appliances etc.). 

Our objective is to maintain the property in the way its residents deserve and to provide respite staffing to make sure we are valuing our staff in tangible ways. We don’t love that our updates may also come with appeals for funding, but we are discovering that is part and parcel of this less traveled road. What we have also discovered is that many of you excel in the grace of giving… and where that giving is directed toward care for, what the Bible refers to as, “the least of these” it’s a beautiful picture of the body of Christ at work in the world.