CLASP Homes Celebrates 30 Years Serving Fairfield County
“CLASP Homes will celebrate our 30th birthday this year – reflecting on many accomplishments, and excitedly looking forward to the next 30 years!” said Tracy Flood, President of CLASP. “When I was hired we had one group home serving six men in Westport. We now have 12 homes, 9 apartments, and serve 80 men and women throughout Fairfield County.”Julie McNamee, Board Chair and parent of one of our residents, said, “CLASP is indeed an extended family to my daughter, Sherri and to our whole family as well. Over the years, we have watched Sherri grow and gain a very full and active life, with more independence than we thought she would ever achieve”. Julie added that “CLASP has become a very important asset in our lives”.
It takes a staff of over 140 caring CLASP professionals to provide the individualized support to the 80 people they fondly refer to as “members of the CLASP Family.” At CLASP, autism, and other developmental disabilities don’t hold people back from living meaningful, productive, safe and happy lives. You will often find those served by CLASP out about town going to a movie, the grocery store, having dinner, swimming at the beach, and generally taking advantage of all that wonderful Fairfield County has to offer.
In the upcoming year CLASP will be hosting a series of events to commemorate this birthday. The goal of these endeavors will be to raise awareness of the wonderful work done by CLASP, and provide opportunities for people in our community to become more involved. “This includes a bit of a “makeover” to the way CLASP’s work is represented to the public” said Robin Hammond, Development Director. After 30 years it’s time to update our website, our logo, and reach out to the community using social media and all the tools at hand. It’s great to get out the message but as human service professionals our primary focus is always the people we serve.”
CLASP operates homes and apartments in Westport, Fairfield, Wilton, Easton, Stratford, Trumbull, Norwalk and Shelton, as well as the Career and Community Options program based in Fairfield.
For more information explore CLASP’s new website at www.clasphomes.org or call Robin Hammond at (203) 226- 7895 ext. 144.
Two Success stories that began at the start of CLASP
Christian and Geoff have been with CLASP since the beginning! Thirty years ago these 2 young men moved into a group home on Kings Hwy. in Westport. It was their first time away from home and family. They came from two very different backgrounds but would share their lives together every day for the next 12 years. Both men were determined to someday become independent and live on their own, in their own apartment, where they would get to “call the shots.”
Christian’s years of working with staff on the skills needed to take care of himself and his home, coupled with counseling, and working at a job he loved, paid off in 1995. Christian’s dream of living on his own came true. He moved to a small one bedroom apartment in Norwalk where he was able to walk to work, the grocery store, the pharmacy, restaurants and even the movies. Christian also loved that he would no longer have to have staff with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; he was able to have his “own” time to do what he wanted. Sometimes we take our freedom and independence for granted, and we don’t realize how intrusive it is to have someone by your side all of the time. This was a liberating experience for Chris. He only needed to have staff come in for a few hours a day to ensure that all his health and safety needs were being met, and someone to help him manage his money and pay his bills on time.
It has been more than 15 years since Chris ventured out on his own. He is a true success story of what CLASP represents! You may just bump into him if you shop at Whole Foods in Westport. He will gladly help you carry your groceries to your car, and tell you about his latest adventure.
Geoff ‘s dream came true a short time after Chris’, when he was able to move into an apartment in Wilton. Geoff did not seem like an obvious candidate. He doesn’t speak much, and conventional wisdom at the time would have dictated that he needed a group home. However, we knew it was his dream and CLASP was determined to make it happen for him. Geoff was diligent in learning to take assisted public transportation to and from work, and improve his time management in order to catch the bus each day. He also learned skills to keep himself safe while in his apartment. He never wanted to live alone, so he has a roommate. He currently lives in a beautiful 2 bedroom condo in Norwalk. Geoff is a quiet man with a lot of personality. He grew up with an amazing family who helped him succeed in every way possible. Geoff loves to relax in his bedroom and listen to CD’s, look through books of different cars, and flirt with the ladies. He truly loves getting up and going every day. Even though Geoff will probably never be fully independent, he feels as if he is is on his own like the other adults in his life.
CLASP is an agency that is willing to look outside the box for the benefit of the people we serve. If they can dream it, we will do whatever it takes to make it happen. To have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t live a truly amazing life; all you need is someone who believes in you.