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Place for Adults With Developmental Disabilities Looks to Expand

  • Former Hanover High School classmates Jana Kieboam, of White River Junction, left, and Brett Wilson, of Hanover, right, walk the grounds of Sunrise Farm in Enfield, N.H., during an open house for Visions for Creative Housing Saturday, August 26, 2017. The Enfield location provides housing and services for 11 adults with developmental delays and disabilities. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Enfield Selectman John Kluge gets a kiss from his sister, Sylvia Dow, after his remarks during an open house for Visions for Creative Housing in Enfield, N.H., Saturday, August 26, 2017. The non-profit, founded by Dow, recently received a $50,000 grant from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority to expand its residential model and has plans to add six additional locations over the next five years. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Krystal Laundry, of Enfield, right, gets a hug from Ashley Dow, of Enfield, as Laundry's sons Killiand Harrington, 6, and Jameson Harrington, 3, look on during an open house for Visions for Creative Housing in Enfield, N.H., Saturday, August 26, 2017. Laundry grew up down the road from Ashley, whose mother Sylvia Dow started the nonprofit that works to provide residential options for adults with developmental delays and other disabilities. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Krystal Laundry, of Enfield, right, gets a hug from Ashley Dow, of Enfield, as Laundry's sons Killiand Harrington, 6, and Jameson Harrington, 3, look on during an open house for Visions for Creative Housing in Enfield, N.H., Saturday, August 26, 2017. Laundry grew up down the road from Ashley, whose mother Sylvia Dow started the nonprofit that works to provide residential options for adults with developmental delays and other disabilities. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2017 11:27:47 PM
Modified: 8/28/2017 10:18:50 AM

Enfield — Going into this weekend, Sylvia Dow figured that about a dozen adults with developmental disabilities occupied the official waiting list for apartments through Visions for Creative Housing Solutions.

During Visions’ third-anniversary open house Saturday at Sunrise Farm, the former inn where Dow and her Visions staff of 16 work with 11 residents, 30-year-old Lyme resident Michelle Baymiller was talking seriously about joining the line.

“I wanted to explore my options,” said Baymiller, one of an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Americans with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that causes a wide range of medical problems and learning challenges. “Thirty years with my dad is long enough. I’m getting older. I can’t live with dad forever.

“This is the starting point.”

Carla Deluca started her march toward independence seven years ago, when Dow invited her to join Dow’s two grown daughters at Sunrise Farm, the 80-acre parcel that has been in Dow’s family since the mid-1950s. Recently, Deluca moved into an apartment, which Visions arranged, near downtown Lebanon with her fiance, a childhood friend with whom Deluca reconnected through Facebook.

In addition to the apartment, Deluca’s mother, Sue Deluca, said during a thank-you presentation, Visions staff helped the couple find work, arrange for transportation and apply for college classes.

“Visions continues to support them in this new setting,” Sue Deluca said. “Sylvia’s vision has always been about endless possibilities.”

And, while they’re at it, realize-able ones.

“Some of the residents here have cats, and we have our own cat now,” Carla Deluca said. “Her name is Autumn. She’s six years old.”

Deluca and her fiance’s move to Lebanon opened a couple of spaces for new residents at the main Visions facility at Sunrise Farm, which filled up quickly. Dow said that three more will move there in the fall, by which time Visions hopes to complete the replacement of the complex’s septic system. In addition to the farmhouse that Dow’s parents turned into the main part of their inn during the 1950s, the property includes a separate set of apartments, a swimming pool, a barn, hiking trails and gardens with vegetables and flowers.

Meanwhile, Visions is looking around Lebanon for multi-family, three- and four-apartment buildings to buy. This past July, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority awarded Visions an Emerging Opportunities Program grant of $50,000, with which Dow hopes to expand to six locations over the next five years.

“The formal waiting list is pretty long, and we’ve had a lot of informal interest already,” Dow said. “I get lots of calls. There’s a lot of need out there, and we’d really like to start something close to the parts of the area where transportation is easier and there are more job opportunities.”

Dow and her team also are working on a handbook about the Visions housing model for other nonprofit groups.

“It makes no sense,” Dow said, “to reinvent the wheel.”

The work at Visions recently caught the attention of Chuck Saia, executive director of the New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, who during the open house pledged to alert Gov. Chris Sununu to the achievements and the potential of the Visions model.

“Sylvia has embraced the most vulnerable citizens, and their parents and families,” Saia said, adding that he has an adult brother dealing with a developmental disability. “It’s a story of integration, a story of inclusion. … And ultimately, it’s a story of love.”

It’s a story that Mike Baymiller, who works at Hypertherm, learned about from the Hypertherm Owners’ Philanthropic Endeavors (HOPE) foundation, and from Hypertherm employees who volunteer at Sunrise Farm.

Mike and Michelle Baymiller moved to New Hampshire in 2014 from South Carolina, where the winters are warmer but there aren’t many services for adults like Michelle once they finish high school. While she enjoys reading, walking the family dog along the Connecticut River and helping prepare meals at home (“She’s a very good vegetable chopper,” her father said), Lyme is relatively isolated for someone who doesn’t drive but would like to interact with more people.

“Being closer to public transportation would be a big deal,” Michelle Baymiller said. “I might like to work part-time, and I’d definitely like to volunteer.”

If she does move to Sunrise Farm, one of the first things she’ll learn is the Visions pledge, in which Betsy Williamson led her residents, all from memory, in a call-and-response recitation during the open house:

I am amazing
I can do anything
Positivity is a choice
I celebrate my individuality
I am prepared to succeed
With love and understanding
We learn and grow together
We are Team Visions!

Editor’s note: To learn more about Visions for Creative Housing Solutions, visit visionsnh.org or email vfchsorg@gmail.com or call 603-632-7707. David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.


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