Home for disabled adults scheduled to open in fall

Posted: Monday, March 06, 2000

Transitions House, a program for young adults with developmental disabilities, is slowly gaining ground.

Organizers say with some help, they hope to break ground soon and open the doors in September.

``We wanted a residential setting for ages 18 to 22 where young adults could live more independently, with supervision, so that they could eventually live independently in the community,'' said Sue Behnert, who has a 21-year-old son with Down syndrome.

The private nonprofit enterprise has a lot in the Mendenhall Valley's S'it'tuwan Subdivision donated by the Juneau Assembly. Members hope supply and building help will come from construction unions and lumber yards.

``We're moving forward to involve more community members and get some in-kind funding,'' said Jackie Timothy, a member of a parents' group that instituted the push for Transitions House in late 1998.

Transitions House would teach real-life skills - such as bed-making, grocery-shopping, cooking, budgeting and taking public transportation - to developmentally disabled young adults.

The school district's Transitions program now operates out of a storefront in the Mendenhall Mall. It's convenient to buses and opportunities to practice banking and shopping, Behnert said, but it is far from ideal.

``In Soldotna they have rented an apartment that students experiencing disabilities use, but they don't stay there overnight,'' Behnert said. ``We would like a residential facility. Transitions House would not be assisted living - but supervised training.''

The Juneau School District's Transitions program serves 10 students, and probably six or seven of them might want to live at a residential facility, Behnert said.

The parent group recently applied for a $250,000 grant from the state Mental Health Trust Authority, said Timothy, who with her husband recently adopted a 2-year-old boy with Down syndrome.

Although their grant application was turned down, Timothy said it scored high, which will encourage the group to try again.

Those interested in donating to Transitions House can reach Timothy in the evening at 789-1526.

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