“The philosophy of care for those with disabilities is changing across Ohio,” said Gina Kerman, Executive Director of Rose-Mary Center.

“Rose-Mary Center sees this new direction as an opportunity to enhance the lives of the children and young adults in our care and allow them to become more independent and integrated members of the community.”

Rose-Mary Center has been a home for children with disabilities in Ohio since 1922. What began as a ministry of the Sisters of Humility of Mary is now supported by Catholic Charities and serves over 95 children and adults. Embarking on a new stage in its life, Rose-Mary Center is transitioning into smaller living environments for all of the children who currently live there, calling it their Homes For Our Future – Community Integration Project.

“We’re transforming with this evolving philosophy of care,” commented Gina Kerman. “Years ago the practice was to put everyone with disabilities together and serve them isolated from the world within institutions. Over the years we’ve gotten much better than that, our parents and families are extremely involved in their children’s lives, but they’re still isolated from the community.”

Over the next six months, Rose-Mary Center will be leaving the building they’ve occupied for 94 years and buying, renovating or building seven new community homes. These homes will range from four to six person homes, based on age, and the children and young adults will be given 24 hour care. Depending on the needs of individuals they will have staffing assigned to each location. Some of the individuals will have one to two staff members assigned to them.

“It can be stressful living with 19 other people, which is why in these smaller environments our children and young adults will be much more comfortable. They will each have their own bedroom, designed and decorated specifically for them, and each home will have two living spaces,” added Gina Kerman. “We’re sure the transition is initially going to be a shock for a lot of our children. Many of them are nonverbal so it’s difficult to gauge what they’re understanding, but that’s why we’re trying to customize these homes as much as possible to fit their personalities and also their needs.”

13015524_1051999304835903_131280226837612115_nConstruction on these homes is underway with some nearing completion. “We’ve been meeting with the neighbors and the parishes in the areas where our homes are being built to talk about how to integrate into these communities and build bonds so that our children will feel welcomed. We want to remove the stigma that is sometimes associated with group homes,” added Gina Kerman.

While the project has begun and construction has started, the dream isn’t a reality yet. The over $4,000,000 venture will require generous donations from supporters. May 20th is Rose-Mary Center’s Annual Enchanted Garden event with all proceeds going directly to the Homes For Our Future project. May 21-22nd will also be an in-pew ask for the annual Catholic Charities campaign with all donations going towards Rose-Mary Center. Some parishes have helped raise money and necessary supplies such as bath towels and bathroom supplies for each of the new homes. Rose-Mary Center is also seeking to provide their homes with playgrounds with specialized, adaptive equipment as well as donations of flowers to create gardens that the children can take care of. Donations can also be made online at their website www.rose-marycenter.com.