Ridgeview Place is a completely private project. When a resident comes to Ridgeview, they must buy into the home. The buy-in brings more with it than just buying into the home. With the home buy in comes a quarter share in the business as well. The business generates significant income such that the purchase into the home can be paid back, which, if you look at it that way, makes Ridgeview essentially free.
Sure, there is work that is to be done with the business. It takes the efforts of both the residents and their families to keep it successful and producing income. Still, that is quite a deal. This means your family member’s lifestyle doesn’t depend on any aid or government programs, which do change and can go away, to thrive.
Look around. I don’t believe there is anything like it.
We lived in the Everett/Mukilteo area before we moved to Chelan over a dozen years ago. Our lives were set up pretty well, even though there were traffic and crowds, our commutes were on side streets and about 10 minutes. We had beautiful views, things to do, lots of friends and a great life there.
But it wasn’t ideal for our son, Turner. Schools were an issue. He was bullied and mistreated at school. The schools weren’t interested in working with the way he learned and to get what we needed would take an adversarial approach.
But the problems went further than the schools. The area was populous enough, that anonymity was the rule so most people ignored our son, or worse were rude, would take advantage of him or bully him. Certainly not everybody was like that, but it was not uncommon.
Turner needed a better world to explore. So, we upended our lives and moved to Chelan. And, it was WORTH IT! Just because Turner is on the spectrum doesn’t mean he isn’t social. Of course he’s a social being!
Chelan has the small town environment we were seeking. While Turner doesn’t know everybody in town, he knows most of them. He’s a celebrity in town, who is valued for his quick smile and upbeat attitude. His enthusiasm and happiness are contagious and people everywhere engage Turner in a positive way.
The environment alone makes Chelan a great place for Ridgeview Place. But, when all that bonus stuff is factored back in, Lake Chelan, the inviting climate, and one of the most popular places in Washington for people to want to be; Chelan is perfect!
Turner gives back to the town too. Whether it is the Food Bank or the Fire Department, Turner is happy to do whatever he can to help out. Turner fits right in. It doesn’t take effort to create an inclusive environment, it just is an inclusive environment when you see the same people all of the time.
Chelan is big enough that there are things going on too. Turner participates in Special Olympics, loves to bowl, has learned to play guitar and has bands he can play with. Most every excavation company in town is friends with him.
Anonymity doesn’t exist in Chelan, at least not for long. The first night we moved into our new home in Chelan years ago, Turner had a melt down. He was screaming and rightfully a neighbor was concerned and called the police. So, we got to know the police right away. The interaction was great and Turner is now on a friendly, first-name basis with the first responders in the area.
When thinking of a place that your family member with a developmental disability can thrive, it takes not only a great home and work environment, but a community that will embrace and support them. So, if you come to check out Ridgeview Place, spend some time checking out the town as well.
As for us, tomorrow is the annual St Patrick’s day Dog Parade. Everybody knows Turner loves dogs. He will be busy saying hello to his human and canine friends, and then probably ride with his buddies in one of the Fire Engines. Half of the town participates in the two-block long parade and the other half cheers them on! Have a great weekend, we will!
Ridgeview Place is a bunch of things. It is a home for special needs adults. It is an inclusive place, that invites interaction between the community and its resident owners. It is a place where residents experience and benefit from both home ownership and owning their own business. A unique style of Social Entrepreneurship weaves the residential and employment experience together in a very unique way.
It’s easy to be busy. Busy isn’t enough to assure a financially sustainable life. Most of the opportunities in our area for adults that are neurologically atypical involve menial work and menial reward. We simply rejected the premise that these hard working adults should be so limited.
Therefore, the business at Ridgeview had to make good sense as a profit making business, period. Busy work wouldn’t cut it; we sought actual, productive business, a profitable, commercial enterprise. That is an unusual requirement for businesses set up to benefit adults with special needs. But that is exactly the requirement that allows for pretty much unlimited opportunity for the resident owners at Ridgeview. The only limit on the opportunities, and incomes, of the owners at Ridgeview is the imagination and motivation of the people involved.
And yes, business is a team sport. The business has lots of things to do for the resident owners as well as their families and supporters. Of course, we chose an initial business that has a fun, social work environment. The work involves all skill levels, so we have things that people of all skill levels can be successful doing.
But it is entrepreneurial at its core. We identified a commercial opportunity and organized a venture to implement it. And, we will do that again and again as we grow.
It is truly a beautiful thing. Those who come to see it tell me there is nothing else like it. If a group of social entrepreneurs is the type of team you want to be involved with, don’t hesitate to check it out. We only have a few spots available.
Open House and Concert
Ridgeview Place: Home for Special Needs Adults
When: Sept 16, 2017 2:00 to 4:00 p.m
Where: 1101 Jessie St, Chelan, WA 98816
Join us for this introduction to the community, learn about the plans and meet the folks involved so far at Ridgeview.
Ridgeview Place is a just completed private residence that was built by Al and Denise Lorenz to be shared by their son, Turner, and three other resident owners with developmental disabilities in Chelan. However, the structure itself is just the beginning of the story; the meaning and purpose come from the people, the relationships, and the involvement of the community.
While we’re celebrating completion of the buildings, work continues on building a joyful environment that is nurturing, fun, and productive for its residents. As we go forward, we are building the systems to make each day go smoothly, hiring staff, and creating exceptional employment for the residents. Imagine individuals with developmental disabilities actually achieving financial security and having a “family” of close friends. I think of it as life without limits.
Similar homes exist in Washington. Examples include The Dwelling Place, Cornerstone and Tierra, all in Leavenworth, that have spread the “fantastically joyful” attitudes of their residents into the community through volunteering and work. Their joy is contagious and an asset for everybody.
We are currently seeking some new best friends who also want to create the happiest home on earth for their special family members. There are opportunities for caregivers and volunteers as well.
We will have some experts to chat with who have succeeded building homes in other communities. Ridgeview and the accompanying vocational program will be on display. There will also be a house concert of local musicians during the open house.
With construction mostly complete (there is still completion of the shop/office space, paving and landscaping to be done), the next phase of this project begins. To borrow from DisneyLand, that is simply to make this one of the Happiest Places in the World to live for the residents, caregivers involved and families who participate.
Fortunately, we have some great models on how that can be accomplished with the people we know from other projects. It is a process though, and one that matures and blooms as we get other families involved!
Building a fun living environment is quite a bit more involved than the construction has been and is a process that really never ends. But, it is lots of fun! Getting the community involved and our loved ones involved in the community is part of it. We have a great start on the vocational part too that helps our folks be actual contributing members of the economy to earn their way. Planning vacations, day trips, etc. and more!
If you have interest in this project, it is time to express it. Thanks!
These show the shop going up on the outside, final grading happening, etc. On the inside, finish electrical and plumbing are happening and final cleanup is in 2 weeks with furniture going in after that.