Noah’s Art is a unique place. Its a place where one can find some peace, some belonging. Noah’s ark is an organization that is committed to empowering individuals who have developmental disabilities by advocating on their behalf and by providing or facilitating choices of meaningful employment, recreational and social opportunities and affordable housing in an inclusive community of their choice.
Lee McClure is a parent who took an extraordinary step for independence for his son, Neal. He reached out to Noah’s Ark in hopes for his son to live there, with more freedom and independence, knowing that he would be taken care of if anything were to happen to him.
Jack Kosik is one of the main pillars for Noah’s Ark. Jack has knows the McClure family for nearly ten years. Prior to becoming a resident of Noah’s Nest, Neal lived in a 55+ community with his father, Lee. Lee found resistance when first trying to enter Neal into the Noah’s Nest community. Lee can have some peace knowing that Neal will be taken care of, because they have no other family members. Jack Kosik has been able to guide Lee to the proper legal and financial advice in order to have safeguards in place when he passes so that Neal will have proper care.
As Jack wrote to me, most of the Noah’s Nest residents receive either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Income. “A person can receive SSDI income once their parents retire, the parents pass away, or the individual works and pays into Social Security for 40 calendar quarters (ten years).”
. The residents undergo a thorough application process.
Facts and Figures directly from Noah’s Ark of Central Florida Overview:
- The State of Florida ranked 47th nationally in providing support services for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) and there were over 6,000 citizens with DD waiting for critical support services with no funds available.
- 93% of Special Education Students with developmental disabilities that received a certificate of attendance will be unemployed and most will remain that way for their entire life.
- 90% of citizens with DD would be sexually abused at some point in their life because they are easy prey of anyone choosing to take advantage of them.
- It was almost certain that these individuals would become “couch potatoes” with no meaningful purpose in life and struggle to survive on a little over $600.00 per month Social Security and food stamps.
- Citizens with DD would likely be forced to live with their parents until their parents were too old to properly care for them, or the parents died. Only then would the Agency for Persons with Disabilities assign them to a group home, or commit them to a licensed state facility with people they have never even met.
- These discoveries horrified the parents and inspired them into action to find real-world and common sense solutions, which would lead to a higher quality of life for their disabled children.
- The families wanted to find an existing organization that took a holistic approach to providing a balanced lifestyle for their children that included a safe and affordable place to live; daily activities that were fun and taught greater independent living skills; meaningful daytime activities either through employment or volunteering; and a small-town community that embraced individuals with disabilities.
- In 2008, Noah’s Ark presented The Villages of Noah’s Landing at the Family CAFE, a statewide disability conference and began educating families across the state on an emerging supportive residential community concept. This presentation received overwhelming support from families and restored hope to many that their adult children would be able to experience a reasonable quality of life. The demand for activities and family education continued to grow and we again expanded our activities program to include a weekly bowling league and community volunteer opportunities.
- Family education and support surfaced as a huge, unmet need. Families were unaware of what support services might be available and the critical needs to establish an appropriate guardianship and special needs trust in order to protect and provide for the and provide for the future needs o their disabled adult child. Noah’s Ark established an aggressive education program to help these families and has been recognized by other non-profit organizations as a strong resource for families.
Lee and Neal McClure have been able to benefit greatly from the many wonderful opportunities offered by Noah’s Ark. Lee McClure’s caregiver, Shirley, confirmed that Noah’s Ark has been an invaluable tool for Neal in order to grow in his independence. Neal suffered from a lack of oxygen at birth, which resulted in brain damage. Lee did what he could to make sure Neal could have a happy, productive life.
Lee McClure first heard about Noah’s Ark from a fellow member of hie barbershop quartet. Their child was a resident, and that is how Lee found out about the organization. The rest is history, one that is continuing on a hopeful path for the McClure family.
Interview sources: Lee McClure and his caregiver, Shirley.
Additional Sources: Noah’s Ark of Central Florida Overview and Jack Kosik hand out.