Residents of Helping Hand group home appreciate Operation New Start kitchens

Debbie Newman, Mary Parsons, Peggy Knowles, Heather Laughman and Sandra Ver Beek
On Wednesday July 17, five ALCW member volunteers visited one of the residential homes owned by Helping Hand Center. It is classified as a CILA (community integrated living arrangement) and is located in a La Grange residential neighborhood.  We were met by Carolyn Kline, Director of Community Outreach, and Beth Patterson, Manager of Residential Development, who showed us around the house and gave us a lot of interesting information. There were no residents in the house since they were either working or in the day center.

The house has been totally renovated to meet the needs of the six adult residents (three male and three female). There are two bedrooms on the first floor and four on the second floor with communal bathrooms. Each bedroom is spacious and decorated by the resident. The kitchen is light and airy as is the dining area. It was so nice to see the kitchen items that we had donated to the house earlier this year obviously being used. Beth and Carolyn told us how much it meant to them to have all the kitchen items provided by us so that they could concentrate on sourcing furniture and other items.

The residents have either physical or developmental disabilities and frequently both so the house has been modified to allow wheelchairs on the first floor, with the possibility of a chairlift being added in the future. There are three separate areas to hang out including a large TV room with games. There is also a large garden with furniture made and donated by a local scout. There is a staff member on hand at all times (including the night) to assist with cooking, cleaning, laundry and any health issues, but mainly the residents look after themselves.

There are a number of houses like this in the area but there is a definite need for more. There are many people on the waiting list with selection being based on emergency need. We came away with a better appreciation of the work of Helping Hand Center and specifically, huge admiration for Beth and her staff who manage all the houses. It was a valuable trip.

--Submitted by Mary Parsons