New Home for Grafton Provides Bright Future
On December 14th, with large scissors and a bright red ribbon, Grafton celebrated the opening of its new, state-of-the-art, handicap accessible Community Support Services’ home. Located in Clarke County, the home was donated to Grafton by the DeMuro family for their son and his housemates. This project represents the culmination of an idea three years in the making.
Allyson Davis, Director of Education and Executive Director of Grafton’s Winchester region, stood on the porch of the home proudly admiring the completed project.
“We have been recognizing for a long time that many of the individuals that we assist and care for truly need houses that are accessible,” Davis said. “We wanted a home that would meet the needs of our individuals 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now.”
Jerry DeMuro and his wife Kathy have a son who has lived at Grafton for almost two decades. They wanted to give him and his housemates a home that will grow with them and meet their needs as they aged in the program.
“We’re very fortunate to be in a position to be able to help Grafton fulfill its mission,” DeMuro said. “We have a vested interest.”
DeMuro came to Davis and started brainstorming what the house would need, what it would look like, and what it would take to make it a reality.
“Jerry started the conversation by asking what our dream home would look like and I replied what I thought the dream would be. He then said ‘Let’s figure out a way to make that happen,’” Davis said. DeMuro and the team at Grafton began working with architect Richard Aikins and Utica Contracting, INC to design a handicap accessible home that would meet the needs of the individuals.
The single-story home is wheelchair accessible, offers an open concept layout so the individuals will always be visible to the staff, individualized bedrooms for all five occupants, and soon a fence will be installed in the back yard so the occupants can safely spend time outdoors.
Tony Wilson, Director of Facilities and Transportation, stood in admiration of the home and said the features of the home will change the lives of the individuals who will soon be residents. Wilson has been with Grafton for 40 years and echoed the sentiments of Davis in that the home is a first of its kind for Grafton.
“It means a lot to the individuals to all have their own bedroom.” Wilson said. “It can be their forever home. It’s totally accessible in every way. We finally got there. We finally got the home they’ve needed for quite a while.” Davis agreed that the joy in this home is that it can also be modified in the course of its lifetime, providing even more options.
Jamie Stewart, Grafton’s Chief Executive Officer and President, stood in the home appreciating all of the features and what it meant for the future of the program. “I’m really excited about this,” he said. “How do I take what we’ve done here and use this as a model to be able to do this for everyone we serve. It’s not just about what we’re doing now, it’s about how we continue to do this going forward.”
As Stewart stands in the home and takes a look around, he smiles, knowing this home will offer a brand new start for the residents and an improved quality of life.
“If you think about the population we’re serving, they’re aging and have more complex medical needs,” he said. “They can age in place because this is their forever home.”
DeMuro, like Stewart, also hopes this house can be replicated for Grafton’s individuals and is thinking about the future for the residents.
“It’s a model that hopefully Grafton can repeat,” he said. “It’s really thinking about where the individuals are going to be in five or 10 years.”
DeMuro’s son, who was eager to meet everyone and share in the excitement, stands in the front room of the home with his dad and wraps his arms around his neck, hiding a smile.
“He’s giving me the sign for home,” DeMuro said as he turned to his son, “That’s right, you’re home.”