Apple Patch Community Patch
home opens in April in Crestwood
serve residents with mild
to moderate mental retardation
CRESTWOOD, Ky.(April 2003) - A dream conceived nearly
15 years ago by a group of parents of children with mental retardation
will become a reality this month with the opening of the first group
home at Apple Patch Community.
Located just north of I-71 on Hwy. 329 near Crestwood, Ky., the budding
community is the result of many years of diligence and commitment to
what founders hope will be a haven for adults with mild to moderate
mental retardation who may not otherwise have the opportunity to live
on their own.
by Ruth Wright
nears completion just off
I-71 at the Crestwood Exit 14.
The Apple Patch vision began in the late 1980s,
when several Louisville-area parents of children with mental retardation
began searching the country for what they considered secure and happy
places their children could live after they could no longer care for
them. Oldham County resident Afaf Shaheen was one of those parents.
We wondered, whats going to happen to our children?
and we needed to start thinking about it, Shaheen said. Shaheen
and others soon began traveling the country in search of places they
felt exemplified the kind of environment they wanted for their children.
The parents found two facilities, Baddour Center near Memphis, Tenn.,
and Lambs Farm outside Chicago, Ill., that offered the kind of environment
they were looking for. Both were large, campus-oriented communities
where residents with disabilities were able to live and work among their
peers. And most importantly, the residents seem genuinely happy. The
parents returned home with the goal of establishing a similar community
in the Louisville area.
To fulfill their goal, the families first needed to raise money. One
of the early fundraising activities was the operation of a snack bar
at the Louisville Antique Mall. Family, friends and businesses also
donated to the cause, Shaheen said.
The second initiative of the group was to find a place to house their
dream. The group wanted to build a community on a sizable property with
plenty of room to grow. We wanted Oldham County because there
was so much land there, Shaheen stated. That idea got the attention
of Frank and Peggy Otte.
The Ottes, who own several nurseries in Jefferson County, decided that
they would donate a large parcel of their own land in Oldham County.
In 1997, they gave Apple Patch 47 acres, formerly a tree farm, for development
of the community.
Donation of the land by the Ottes literally lent the project solid footing.
Originally, Apple Patch was planned as an exclusive community open only
to adults with mental retardation, much like the closed-campuses of
Baddour Center and Lambs Farm visited by the founding members. But as
time passed, the communitys 23-member board of directors developed
an expanded vision for the project.
Communities open to both the general public and individuals with special
needs provide what are known as natural supports. For example, if residents
need help, they can call on neighbors for assistance. And, according
to April Duval, Executive Director of the Council on Mental Retardation
in Louisville, Ky., these types of communities are more compatible with
the general experience of most people with disabilities.
With these details in mind, last November Gary Wietharn, chairman of
the Apple Patch board, presented an expanded vision for the community.
Of the 47 acres available, it was announced that approximately 15 would
be used for the construction of patio homes and/or townhouses available
to both individuals with disabilities and the general public in addition
to the group homes that were originally planned. Our hope or vision
is that it will provide more of a normal support system, said
Apple Patchs expanded vision will provide many benefits to potential
residents, their families and the community. Not only will new avenues
of support be available for residents with disabilities and their families,
but members of the general public will have the opportunity to live
in a community with a large number of amenities, Spoelker said.
Another benefit of the expanded vision of Apple Patch are additional
funding options available to such a community. Government agencies will
be much more fiscally supportive now that an integrated community is
being planned, Spoelker added.
Exactly how Apple Patch will be integrated and what the popollution
of the community will be has not yet been confirmed. It is certain,
however, that the main focus of the project will still be to provide
secure and housing to as many individuals with disabilities as possible.
There will be guidelines to ensure that a reasonable percentage of the
residences will be open to those individuals, according to Spoelker.
Joe Spoelker has been
guiding the effort
since the start.
The first residence, opening this month, will house seven
adults with mild to moderate mental retardation. There is also a separate
living area for a home coordinator who will be hired to provide support
to occupants. Lisa Lee recently joined the Apple Patch staff as the
residential/supported employment manager. Lees responsibilities
will include screening home coordinator applicants. Responsible, caring
and patient individuals will be selected to fill these positions as
they become available. Home coordinators will help occupants adjust
to independent living, help them understand appropriate behavior and
assistant them when necessary. Residents will do their own laundry and
prepare their own meals.
In addition to housing, Apple Patch will provide many options to residents
including vocational training for jobs on and off campus, social events,
personalized health and fitness plans, performing arts activities and
multi-faith worship. A community center will serve as the hub, said
Spoelker, and will provide a gathering place for activities and a nondenominational
chapel will be built on site for community worship. Additionally, plans
for on-site greenhouses and a retail outlet will provide vocational
opportunities for residents. It is the combination of residential, recreational,
social, vocational and spiritual opportunities that provides the overall
advantage to residents, advocates say.
Last year, Apple Patch purchased the former Kentucky Tae Kwon Do building
at 7408 Hwy. 329, just south of the community entrance. Carolina Door
leases half of the building. The remaining half houses administrative
offices and the vocational center. Jan Penick is the director of finance
Day programs are conducted in the vocational center where individuals
are given job training and opportunities. Alan Boeschel, vocational
centermanager, trains day program participants and assists with an paper
recycling program through which individuals make molded paper art for
sale to the public. As part of the day program, participant Alex Auerbach
created a birdhouse design which was made into a mold. Auerbach will
be one of the first residents of Margarets House, named after
the late mother of one of the communitys early sponsors, Richard
Jebber, CEO of Mattress Warehouse.
Day programs, which are open to residents and nonresidents of Apple
Patch, will continue to be a part of the communitys service to
the area. Program participants that are between ages 18 to 21 must have
a high school diploma or certificate of completion, said Spoelker.
Another vocational opportunity was provided when Apple Patch purchased
Marys Candies nearly three years ago. The wholesale candy business,
located in Jeffersontown, Ky., specializes in decorative molded chocolates.
The company not only provides job opportunities but also spreads the
message of Apple Patch, said Spoelker.
Spoelker said that the Apple Patch Community will provide another option
for people with disabilities and their families.
Apple Patch is looking for businesses in Oldham County to provide additional
employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The
advantage to employers is that they will have an individual who is going
to be with them for a long time, Spoelker said.
Spoelker said that every layer of the Oldham County community, from
county government to citizens and businesses, has been very welcoming
to the Apple Patch Community. Brooks May, Apple Patch board member and
Chief Operating Officer of Old Colony Insurance in Crestwood, said that
Apple Patch offers a new dimension to Oldham County and the entire Louisville
metropolitan area. Its a much needed service, May
said. Old Colony, and other businesses and organizations in the area
have been very support of Apple Patch, Spoelker said. GE donated appliances
and Phillip-Morris donated flooring for Margarets House. Other
supporters include Brown-Foreman, the Kentucky Colonels, Warehouser
Co., Old Colony Insurance, Torbitt & Castleman and Boy Scout Troop
341 headed by Andy McClure.
To further its goals, Apple Patch is conducting the Building the
Dream Campaign, to raise the $5.1 million necessary for the completion
of Phase One of the project. Phase One includes construction of three
residences, a multi-purpose building or community center and a multi-faith
Apple Patch will hold their biggest fundraiser of the year, the 6th
Annual Apple Patch Community Hat Affair & Dinner fro 5:30 p.m. to
9:30 p.m. on Monday, April 14. Tickets for the event, which will be
held at The Olmsted in Louisville, are $60. Table sponsorships are available.
The evening will include hors doeuvres and dinner, a silent auction
and a live auction of designer hats, a hand-stitched quilt, Florida
vacations and many other items. The Hat Affair and Dinner is sponsored
For more information call (502) 657-0103 or
look for additional information online at www.applepatch.org.
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