Thanks to volunteers, construction is underway on three homes in Raleigh that will house adults with developmental disabilities.
The Building Independence Project is a group effort uniting Lutheran Services Carolinas, Grace Lutheran Church, Thrivent Financial, The Serving Cup and Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.
The homes on Lake Wheeler Road will provide housing for nine adults who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Each resident will have a private bedroom and bathroom, and each home will have a kitchen, dining room and den as common spaces. One of the homes will also have office space for staff as well as a larger gathering space for residents.
The homes will be owned by Lutheran Services Carolinas, and families will pay a modest housing fee. The residents will work together to learn skills to maintain the homes.
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Organizers say it was important to build the homes near public transportation and potential job opportunities for residents.
The Building Independence Project is a follow-up to the development of Green Level Apartments in Cary in 2010. For that project, Lutheran Services Carolinas partnered with North Carolina Housing Finance, The Serving Cup ministry and advocacy group Arc of North Carolina. Twelve residents currently live in the supportive and independent environment.
After the Cary project was complete, Lutheran Services Carolinas and Habitat Wake began exploring ideas for working together.
“We started having discussions about how we could collaborate for a higher purpose for people with disabilities,” said Jeffrey DeMagistris, executive director of Lutheran Services Carolinas Child and Family Services. “We met with Wake Habitat in Raleigh numerous times to develop discussions about how we could go forward and do something unique and creative with the skills that Habitat has and also the knowledge and programming that Lutheran Services has.”
Some key volunteers propelled the Building Independence Project forward. They include Eric Vaughn, a founding board member of Serving Cup, a ministry for developmentally disabled adults that was born at Raleigh’s Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Custom home builder and philanthropist Tom Gipson was also instrumental in the project.
“We refer to this internally as our mailbox program,” Vaughn said. “When potential residents interviewed for Green Level, one of the most frequent questions wasn’t about roommates or furniture, it was about ‘will I have my own mailbox?’ It speaks to what it means to live independently. So that’s what we presented to the Habitat board and the Lutheran Services to try and get Building Independence up and running.”
Public health officials estimate more than 16,000 adults in Wake County have intellectual or developmental disabilities.
“With only a little help they would be able to work and live independently,” said Vic Lebsock, a project organizer with Grace Lutheran Church in Raleigh. “This is a new model for the Habitat organization and if successful is likely to extend to other areas.”
Vaughn said the model benefits many baby boomers who are concerned about their own futures as well as the futures of their children with developmental disabilities.
“The peace of mind that these parents will enjoy is unbelievable,” Vaughn said. “They feel that their adult child has a place that is a secure environment.”
The group is still looking for volunteers to help build the homes, which are scheduled to be finished by the end of March. Sign-up is available online at habitatwake.org.
St. George’s Anglican Church will host its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at 1210 Dixie Trail, Raleigh.
The cost is $8 per plate for eat-in or take-out. The meal includes homemade spaghetti with sauce, salad, bread and a drink. Unique gift items will be raffled.
In case of bad weather, the event will be rescheduled for Jan. 23.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.