Oasis Community of West Michigan began in 2008 with a group of parents of young adults with disabilities who desired to create an accepting community where people who understand the challenges of raising children with disabilities could meet in a social setting to share stresses and successes, and gain insights from real-life experiences.
Over the years, our vision has grown. We have worked to discover housing alternatives that will provide adults with disabilities a safe place to live with greater independence, social connectivity, and lead purpose-filled enjoyable lives.
Our focus is Kent and Ottawa Counties with the ability to grow into surrounding counties. Information shared is especially pertinent for kids from middle school through adulthood.
Oasis has monthly meetings with guest speakers and social activities.
Recently, Oasis has been asked how we are going to include and support our members who require a higher level of support to live on their own. It seems that we’ve focused a lot on members who appear far more capable of being independent. We have a membership with very diverse needs and abilities. We have members who have been living in apartments or condos on their own with just their family’s support and community living support (CLS) staff a few hours a week. We are now moving forward with our first neighborhood community of seven or eight disabled members moving into Emerald Flats. We are interviewing potential Community Builders who will provide social supports for those members who will each have CLS staff supports and some will have family nearby.
At the same time, we are reaching out to families with members who require a higher level of supports to ask what you think your child will need to live outside of your home. Oasis is not an agency that will provide support services and cannot afford to pay for those services needed by individuals. However, an individual’s benefits should accommodate the supports they need. Will they need a live-in aid or assistant – and to do what? Is that something they can afford on their own (remember that if a parent/family member is providing that home help now, someone else could be paid to do it when they move out)? Could they split the cost of an aid/assistant with a roommate who also needs similar services? Could they provide free or discounted housing to a roommate who can provide those services? Does your child need regular in-home medical care? The community builder will not provide these types of services, so how will your child get the services they need to be more independent?
Oasis is not a provider of adult foster care and does not own any facilities to house individuals with disabilities. We want to look outside the traditional housing model of an adult foster care home or assisted living facility. These are not always the best option, even for those with higher needs. Surprisingly, some can’t accommodate those with higher needs and many aren’t even barrier free. Housing is a very personal decision that each of you need to make with your families, especially including your disabled child. Do they want to live as independently as possible but still need a lot of assistance? Oasis will not provide caregivers, that will be the responsibility of the family and the disabled individual. But, Oasis could still be the answer.
Oasis’ Coordinated Living Committee is reaching out to local low-income housing developers with these members in mind. We plan to assemble a group for a round table discussion about providing new or renovated housing that is universal in its design, meeting barrier free needs (not just requirements) and will include more than the traditional one or two bedrooms to accommodate a live-in caregiver. We would like these types of apartments/homes to be included in their future developments. We want to encourage creative solutions that fit a variety of very diverse needs and abilities but are inclusive.
We want to make Oasis as inclusive as possible and will work to that end. To truly be a community we need to respect the uniqueness of each of our members. We need to stand together to support inclusion in all opportunities while embracing our diversity and that uniqueness that makes us who we are.
Core values of Oasis include:
Individuals with disabilities have a fundamental human right to fully access all the opportunities available within their communities.
Person Centered Planning (PCP) will be used to provide a voice and choice to individuals living with disabilities.
Creating new solutions limits our reliance on government programs and benefits.
Social connectivity and self-determination for disabled individuals provides more opportunity, choice and integration in society.
Individuals and families building relationships and working collaboratively is essential to creating sustainable, inclusive communities and fulfilling lives.
Education on topics of common concern and sharing personal experiences provides better options and choices for all family members.
The psychological and emotional well-being of all family members is supported through development of interdependent relationships with other individuals who walk the same path.