For Interested Families
The founders of the Parkwood Foundation are parent guardians of individuals with developmental disabilities. Each of us struggled with how best to provide for both the physical and emotional security of our disabled child as he or she grew from adolescence to adulthood and worried about what would happen to him or her when we are gone.
Psychologists tell us that sometime during an individual’s late teens they feel the need to move out of their parents’ home and live with a greater sense of independence and exercise more control over their own lives. For non-developmentally disabled individuals this means off to college, the military or a job and an apartment. This same need exists in the developmentally disabled. For individuals requiring 24/7 support services this usually means a group home and for those able an apartment with or without roommates with support provided by someone stopping by at some frequency to assure that the resident is not in any kind of crisis.
As infants and children each of us was a member of a nuclear family. When non-developmentally disabled individuals leave their nuclear family they immediately seek to replace that feeling of family with others. This might be other dormitory residents at college, roommates or cohabitation with a member of the opposite sex. For most these are temporary measures until they find a mate, marry and create a family of their own. Developmentally disabled individuals are typically unable to form the relationships necessary to temporarily replace their nuclear family and are highly unlikely to find a mate, marry and create a family of their own.
Although typical group home and supervised apartment living may be able to provide safety and security for developmentally disabled residents, it is our opinion that at best it can provide some sense of community but not fill the need each one of us has to be part of family.
The primary issues here are size, permanence and lifestyle. Traditional families are small and the members stay together for a long time, until they leave to start their own families, or if in their own families, until their death. Typically group home and supervised living facilities are larger and residents come and go with some frequency. Support staff turnover is also problematic. The goal and the methods used to fund Parkwood Foundation homes intends for the residents to live together until they are medically unable to do so. In the unlikely event a resident becomes unable to continue living in the house a search would begin to identify another individual to join the family.
Since the goal is forever, selection of residents must be done with the utmost of care. The Parkwood philosophy is to identify individuals that function at similar levels and that have common interests and lifestyle desires. In addition, family/guardian involvement and willingness to participate and create an extended family are also taken into consideration. The current residents of Parkwood House have been living together as a family unit for more than 16 years. This is attributable to the selection of the residents and the willingness of residents, parents and guardians to make this family work.
Another aspect of permanence is funding. By establishing the Parkwood Developmental Disability Foundation and donating the real estate, the cost of renovation, fixtures and furnishings, a vehicle, and the commitment to assist with operating costs on an on-going basis, the current residents and those who will live there in the future can do so without fear of losing their home and their bonded family unit.
Parkwood House is organized to encourage family-style living. Although each resident has a spacious bedroom, walk-in closet and private bathroom, the kitchen, dining area and living/TV/recreation rooms are all common space. In addition, a live-in resource/support person has an apartment contained within the house. All Parkwood residents have some daytime employment. Like in most families, each resident uses the kitchen to prepare their own breakfast and lunch or to prepare a lunch to take with them to work. Dinner is always family-style with the resource/support person and the residents preparing the meal, eating together and cleaning up together. Evening leisure activities are often done together.
Household responsibilities are shared with each resident responsible for certain chores on a mutually agreed upon schedule. All shopping, cleaning, and most yard work are done on a shared basis. Recreational activities may be pursued individually or by two or more residents. Transportation to and from work and some daytime activities is accomplished using public transportation or the Tri-Met Lift service. The House does own a van and the live-in resource/support person provides transportation for residents when public transport is unsafe or unavailable. The house has a common phone which is used by all the residents, but residents may have their own cell phone.
The overriding goal of the Parkwood Developmental Disability Foundation is to provide residential lifestyle opportunities that are as close as humanly possible to that of a typical family unit and as far from those of an institutional environment as the abilities of the residents allow. The Foundation seeks more than safety and security for individuals with developmental disabilities; it seeks the nurturing environment only available to those who are part of a permanent caring family unit with people to love and people who love them. This has been accomplished with the first house.
The Foundation is interested in sharing its experience, strength, hope and resources with other families interested providing a home for a developmentally disabled family member. If after reading the information on the MISSION page you believe we may be able to work together please contact us through the CONTACT US page on the website.