Our House - Bright Futures

What if individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities had a place to create friendships and be celebrated for who they are?

Photo of Carol
1 3

Written by

Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

The founder had an individual with disabilities move in with him and his family. This person had some behavioral struggles, didn't want to go to school or program, and went through a number of homes before settling in. The difference seemed to be in the relationships created at home and ability for the individual to develop a voice and be heard. He could express wants and needs as well as make choices regarding his life. The desire was to create an environment where people wanted to be.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

www.ourhouseinc.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Colorado

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Colorado Springs

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Colorado

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Colorado Springs

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities struggle to create and maintain friendships without a location to do that. Our House strives to set the stage for this by having a place where individuals can feel loved, valued, and accepted for who they are. The program develops independence while simultaneously creating a social network of support and inclusion.

The focus of Our House is to create an environment of acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  While celebrating individuals for their unique personalities, the program also strives to help them become more independent, build strong friendships, and realize their potential.  It's extremely important that everyone feel valued and have a sense of purpose, and the individuals served by Our House are no different.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Children who are differently abled

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

2008

Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

One individual served by Our House started four years ago and was lacking in coping skills as well as self-awareness. He was emotionally distressed, which often hindered his daily experiences and interactions. Through making connections with peers and staff members he has developed strong friendships, increased self-esteem, and a sense of belonging. Initially he was very reserved and would shut down in the face of confrontation or growth. With patience, compassion, and encouragement, he has been able to accept challenges with a positive attitude and rarely shies away from social situations. He's eager to be a part of the community and thrives on interactions with others.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

*Our House has served over 130 individuals over the past year and worked with 10 school districts in the local area.
*Over 80 of those served have received funding from Medicaid waivers and are able to attend program year round.
*93% of families and caregivers surveyed responded that they were satisfied by the services provided by Our House.
* 90% of those surveyed responded that their individuals enjoy going to Our House each day.
*Comments from a general survey were overall very positive and included messages regarding how much their son or daughter enjoys attending Our House, that their son or daughter is happiest when they are at Our House, and that the staff goes above and beyond to ensure individuals are well taken care of.
*Our House is looking to expand the area in which services are provided in order to meet the needs of more individuals and families.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1mil - $5mil

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our House works with school district transition programs and Medicaid waivers to fund the services provided. There are families that choose to private pay as well, but with the greater availability of Medicaid waivers in the past year, not as many are needing to do this. In order to add in more services greater monetary investment is required, but no program is begun without it being financially sustainable.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Our House is one of many organizations that provide services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. What makes the organization different is the low staff to participant ratio, a more holistic approach to services, and a high emphasis on fostering friendships. Our House highers staff that are very passionate about working with these individuals and who have more life experience. In addition, the organization is very good at walking alongside families as they transition through many of life's milestones and challenges.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

In order to create a society of more productive and well-balanced individuals, a change needs to be made to focus more on person-centered growth and education that encompasses social emotional awareness. So often individuals are measured by success in terms of what they achieve rather than the quality of their character.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Josh Steinfeld

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Melanie Gilbert
Team

Hi Carol,

Great program!

I am a sister-in-law and a cousin to women with developmental disabilities. They receive supportive services including housing, transportation, job training, and health counseling. All terrific stuff, yet their social-emotional growth is barely addressed by their respective programs. Lack of awareness can lead to lack of engagement which can lead to increased isolation and even ostracism.

Neither of the women in my family practice their social skills in a consistent and supportive community like Our House. As a result, I often feel like they are lost during family gatherings. I imagine their interactions with the general public can be challenging as well. Deliberate practice of the social skills we may take for granted is vital for differently abled people.

I'm always impressed by people who see a need and address it. Congrats on your vision for wellbeing in an undeserved community. Let me know when you expand into Massachusetts!

All the best from another Changemaker,

Melanie