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Visions for Creative Housing Solutions: Meeting a Substantial Need for Individuals, Families, and The Community

Sylvia Dow and her husband Dave know the challenges of raising children with special needs. Their two daughters, now adults, have developmental disabilities, and for many years Sylvia cared for them at their home in Enfield, a large farmhouse that was at one time a European-style inn operated by her family. Before long, she became a home provider to two other individuals seeking the home-based care the Dows offered at Sunrise Farm.

As she learned about the system of care and housing for developmentally disabled adults, Sylvia also learned there were few options for them and their families. “I realized that my children were getting older and I was getting older and realized others like them needed a stable place where they could live as independently as possible, where they could have jobs and friends; that their lives would be about them,” Sylvia recalls.

She partnered with Pathways, a local agency that provides services for adults with special needs, and established Visions for Creative Housing Solutions in 2014 with six residents. Today there are 10 residents and a long waiting list, prompting a new vision—a similar housing and care facility in Lebanon.

A Grateful Mother Lends a Hand

Lisa Green of Lebanon has an adult son with developmental disabilities and has been caring for him his whole life. She’s getting older, she says, and concerned about the future. “I have a 27-year old son with special needs. He requires 24/7 care and I’ve been taking care of him all his life. When he finished high school, we signed him up with Pathways, the area agency that provides daytime supports for people with developmental disabilities, so that I could go to work.” They provide care during the day, “but as soon as I’m done work, I take over his care evenings, overnight and Sundays. It’s very intense.” She bought a condo for her son, Patrick, so he could be somewhat independent, but is still doing all the evening and overnight care. “Nothing has changed for me, but what has changed is Pat, who always wanted his own place. He’s really happy. He’s very much aware of what his friends and siblings and other adults have, and he wants that too. He wants independence.”

When she heard about Visions in Enfield, she said “that’s the ticket.” But it was full and there’s a long waiting list, which speaks to the need for such housing and care in the region. When she talked with Sylvia and learned about plans to expand to Lebanon, Lisa got on board to get the project moving and has joined the effort to raise money to make Visions in Lebanon a reality, along with parents in similar circumstances and other concerned citizens. “We’re all in support of Sylvia. She’s had this wonderful vision and made it come true in Enfield and we think she has the right vision to expand.”

“Someone has to take care of these people after we’re gone or as we age,” says Lisa. “It’s a predicament and Sylvia has a great solution. The people in Enfield are like a family and look out for each other. I’ve seen the amazing thing that has happened there and I want that for Patrick. The beauty is that once we raise the funds to purchase the building and renovate, we’re not going to have to keep raising funds for it.”


By Katherine P. Cox

Photos by C Perry Photography

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