In an effort to help make dreams come true for adults with developmental disabilities, a nonprofit organization has purchased a bed and breakfast in Waterloo for just more than $300,000.
A large donation by an anonymous donor allowed Waterloo-based Human Support Services to buy the five-bedroom bed and breakfast, which they hope to open for business in late spring or early summer.
Anne King, director of Waterloo-based Human Support Services, said the plan is for three adults with developmental disabilities to operate the bed and breakfast, located at 4505 HH Road, as well as live there in a group-home setting. The other two bedrooms would be available as traditional bed-and-breakfast rooms.
“We were looking for a new home to serve more adults with developmental disabilities,” King said.
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In addition, the nonprofit group is focusing on vocational training for the adults it serves.
King said Human Support Services wants to get its clients “out in the community” and “more in real job settings.”
A bed and breakfast offers a variety of employment options like housekeeping, laundry, culinary arts, event planning and landscaping, according to Craig Laskowski, chief program officer for the nonprofit.
“We really want the people we serve to take the lead in what they want to do in their lives,” Laskowski said. “It’s a great opportunity, as it offers a lot of different jobs.”
The bed and breakfast, which was previously called the Waterloo Inn, is currently undergoing updates and repairs.
Prior to it opening, King said Human Support Services needs to acquire a bed and breakfast license and a license from the state for a Community Integrated Living Arrangement, known as CILA for short.
“We have been a CILA provider for adults with developmental disabilities for many years,” King said.
The Waterloo bed and breakfast would be the nonprofit’s sixth group home, if it gets state approval.
“We feel so fortunate to have the full support of the city of Waterloo,” King said. The city currently employs two of the nonprofit's clients.
Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said he fully supports the project.
"It gives an opportunity for people to work in Main Street America," he said. "They (clients served by Human Support Services) enjoy being a part of the community."
In preparation for its new project, Human Support Services toured a bed and breakfast called Village of the Blue Rose in Clarksville, Missouri, which is operated by adults with developmental disabilities.
“It was a good learning experience,” King said.
The individuals who will work at the bed and breakfast are still being determined. “We are going to let our individuals we serve choose what they are interested in,” Laskowski said.
He said Human Support Services has been moving toward “person-centered” services, which focuses on developing services and supports around the skills, interests, dreams and desires of each individual served.
Laskowski said the old system was based upon a medical model where an individual’s weaknesses were determined and services were focused on strengthening those areas.
“That model is trying to fix people,” he said. “Nothing is broke with an individual with a disability,” which is why they now focus on clients’ strengths, gifts and talents.
Once it's up and running, King said support staff from Human Support Services will be on hand at the bed and breakfast to assist in its operation — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A name for the new bed and breakfast is still being determined with input being sought from staff members and clients.
“We are very invested in our local community,” King said. “We are happy to be able to provide this service to assist the community and draw individuals into Monroe County and the city of Waterloo. There’s lots to see and do here, and we are happy to be a part of it.”
Human Support Services, which serves 800 people annually, is currently looking for donations of household items for the bed and breakfast.