Following a $2.2-million fundraising effort, a new space is opening up for people with disabilities in Windsor and Essex County. The grand opening for the Solcz Family Foundation Respite Home is taking place today.
"The fact that we have this new accessible space for the children, the youth, of course the parents and even our staff, it's just absolutely amazing," said Alexandria Fischer, who does community relations with Family Respite Services.
"We're so excited. It's emotional."
The organization works with 1,200 families of children with disabilities to develop respite support plans so that parents can have a break from caring for their child with significant challenges. And at the same time, the children can engage in activities and be social with their peers.
"That might mean a direct support provider going into the family's home, or that might mean a child or youth coming to one of our respite homes to spend the weekend with our staff, or a summer day camp," Fischer said.
The home will open its doors next week and a specialized summer day camp program will be offered.
Adrianna Mayea-Bennett's son Donnovan, who is on the autism spectrum, has been engaged in Family Respite programming for almost decade, taking part in the Weekend with Friends program.
She said he loved it immediately.
"He looks forward to going even now... it's a place where he can go hang out with friends. And that was difficult for him to make friends. So they kind of facilitated that for him," she said.
Facing a long wait list, Family Respite was looking to expand three years ago. The organization had been operating out of its current location for a few decades.
The new home cost $2.2-million, and the project went ahead without any financial support from the government.
The home is named for the Solcz family, who contributed $725,000 dollars toward the home. The rest of the money was generated through other donations from the community.
Kyrsten Solcz, the executive director of the Solcz foundation, said the accessibility factor is the main difference between the old home and the new.
"The new home has fully accessible washrooms. The bedrooms are all accessible. It's all on one floor. There is a basement component, but the majority of the home is used on the first floor for children and youth. There's a fully accessible playground."