Hope Village does not look like the typical assisted care facility. Instead of multistory, apartment-style residences, the village houses the intellectually disabled in homes that look and feel like a family home. The organization has housed those in need for more than 45 years.
Established in 1967 by Bill and Lucille Williams, who saw a need for better care for the disabled, Hope Village sits on about 18 acres and has about 60 residents who call the village home. An additional 40 villagers participate in daily programs, Executive Director Sharon Proulx said.
“Many of our residents come to our program in their 20s or teens because their family realizes, ‘OK my child needs more than being at home,’” she said. ‘“They can be with me, but I can’t provide companionship, peer mentoring and the special things they can get outside in a community of people [who] are like-minded.’”
Permanent residents live in groups of 10-14 along with staff members who are called house mothers, Proulx said. Staff provides alert care 24 hours a day and performs nightly checks every 30 minutes on residents who are at risk for seizures or have needs that require more attention.
Day-use villagers live full time with their families but come to Hope Village to work or participate in social programs and activities. Some hold jobs where they are paid directly into a Hope Village account, said Rebecca Hillenburg, chairwoman of the Hope Village board of directors.
“[Villagers] could be helping in the resale [store] or in the cafe,” Hillenburg said. “We [also] have contracts with businesses and organizations where we can put stamps on envelopes for them or seal envelopes. So [our villagers] receive pay based on the number of hours they work.”
The idea is to create an environment that feels less like a controlled living center, Hillenburg said. The center also offers scholarships for residents if and when their resources run out. For example if a resident’s remaining family dies, scholarships allow them to continue living at the facility.
“I think Hope Village amplifies what they do for the people they work with in just one word—villagers,” Hillenburg said. “They aren’t called residents, they aren’t called students—they are villagers of their family and of their community, and everything centers around that.”