Here is what our residents, parents and partners are saying...
"Housing opportunities for those with IDD is a growing need for those with Down syndrome, especially as the life expectancy for those with Down syndrome continues to increase, along with their aging caregivers. Options that help individuals maintain good health, allow independence and inclusion in our communities, maintain privacy and ensure the safety of our most vulnerable population is a significant undertaking, and we are grateful to the work you are doing to provide this for our community. DSAMT is proud to be a partner with Our Place Nashville and offers its support in any way we can as you continue to enhance the lives of those with Down syndrome."
Alecia Talbott, Executive Director of Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee
"Our Place Nashville is providing the chance for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have what most everyone in our country aspires to . . . a place of their own."
Tammy Day, Director of Next Steps at Vanderbilt
"I want to take this opportunity to tell you how Our Place Nashville has changed our family’s life. My husband and I had a son 31 years ago. It wasn’t long before it was obvious that he had some challenges. Through his growing up years, we took every opportunity to help him grow in every way. But there was one area we were unable to help him with. He wanted to live on his own. We didn’t want him in an apartment by himself where he would sit alone. At least with us he had someone around. My husband and I are hard-working people and did not have extra money to get him a place. Many nights we would shed tears over the situation. We came away from our first meeting with you knowing that the blessing we had been looking for was right in front of us. Here was an apartment with a community around it that we could afford. We loved the concept and decided to give it a try. Two years later, Steven still lives there in a vibrant active community. He has friends and neighbors and so many new experiences...from reading to a neighbor’s daughter to discussing politics with the graduate students. He is finally living a better life than we could have hoped for. We can never thank Our Place Nashville enough. I pray that you can continue to help all of us in this community."
Carol Greiner, Parent of Friendship House resident
"The long-term impact of Our Place Nashville cannot be adequately emphasized. Not only does this organization give rare, desperately needed integrated community to our population, it has a pay-it-forward value for the divinity student. The model has already shown how the program will and can be replicated in cities across the U.S., and gives students a much-needed insider/other-world view of a large, forgotten, maligned, and misunderstood segment of the human population. Our Place Nashville also offers the tremendous gift of peace of mind to parents of loved ones with disAbilities who are not able to enjoy empty nest and many other retirement benefits, and are challenged with the task of caring for their loved ones until they die. Every parent of a son/daughter with a disAbility has a common wish: to outlive their loved one. More often than not, it does not happen. Our Place Nashville is a dream come true for their fortunate recipients and also a happy ending: Their loved ones live in community where they are wanted, loved, appreciated, and valued."
Leisa Hammett, Parent of woman on waiting list
"As a statewide information and referral program, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder tracks the types of needs individuals with disabilities have based on the requests for resources we receive, and housing is consistently one of the top five needs reported. Our Place Nashville, therefore, serves as a valuable resource in fulfilling the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Not only does it help meet the basic need for housing, it also promotes the self-advocacy of individuals with disabilities by enabling them to live independently in a supported environment."
Megan Hart, Director of Tennessee Disability Pathfinder
"Finding affordable and accessible housing, and the supports to live independently are two of the biggest challenges facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) today. Many people with IDD want to live independently but often cannot find housing that they can afford on their limited income, and when they do find affordable housing they often don’t have services or supports available to live safely on their own. Our Place Nashville has tackled both these challenges head on and has made significant progress in addressing both in a very short time. Rather than being constrained by a system that often creates barriers to “out of the box” thinking, Our Place Nashville has replicated best-practice models that have been successful in other states. Because of their persistence, many young people with IDD are fulfilling their dream of living independently in the community with the support they need."
Carrie Hobbs Guiden, Executive Director of The Arc Tennessee
"I have been doing pretty good. I enjoy my apartment so much and living in Nashville. I am loving being an IDEAL alumnus. I have so many friends in Murfreesboro, at Lipscomb and at Friendship House. I like my job as well. Next Tuesday, I will have worked at Fidelity Print for over two years. I can hardly believe it."
Zach Sutton, Friendship House Resident
"I knew God could do it! Yesterday Bryshawn got his keys! With God, the possibilities are endless. When I was told that Bryshawn would be “limited,” as to what he could do or have, they didn’t know what God can do. He graduated in April and now he’s got his own apartment. Make no mistake. I’m not bragging. I’m just thankful. If you have a child or loved one with a disability, don’t let anyone tell you the CAN’Ts because with God you CAN. Ok, Shawn, it’s the real deal now and you’ve got bills! But I have no doubt you’ll be fine because God says so."
Consuela Olden, Parent of Friendship House resident
"Thank you for letting me live at Friendship House. It’s so cool and I like it here."
Andrea Duffy, Friendship House resident
"You have made it possible for us to move farther, faster, than he has ever come before. He is talking about how he feels about the inevitability of moving out! He may not like it; he may be mad about it; but he is talking about it! And you have given me something to hope for, when for years I have been nothing but desperate. $150 a year [waiting list fee] is a bargain for twelve months full of hope! Twelve and a half dollars a month? SIGN ME UP!"
Mary Catharine Nelson, PARENT OF Friendship House resident
"Our Foundation very much appreciates your commitment to assisting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in finding affordable housing in Middle Tennessee. We extend our best wishes to you for continued success in the coming year."
Foster Dugas, Chairman of Dugas Family Foundation
"We are short-staffed on social workers, so I am reaching out to your organization for help. I have a client who is intellectually disabled. He lives with his sister, but she is often not able to give him the care and attention he really needs. She has asked me for help finding him suitable housing and care. Do you know of any resources for him?"
Stella Yarbrough, Nashville Public Defender's office
"I was given your name to contact regarding a young man we’ve been working with who will be 18 on Tuesday. He’s been diagnosed with autism spectrum, but has a FSIQ of 81. Do you have any housing options for him?"
Laura Hamilton, Team Leader with Tennessee Department of Children's Services
"I am so excited how far Our Place Nashville has come in a short time. For years I have been working on housing options but have been unsuccessful, as have others. I feel really good about the future now."
Bill Gavigan, M.D. - parent of woman on waiting list
“Suddenly we have choices. Our Place Nashville is such a jewel in my life, and I am in your debt. Thank you.”
Leigh Crump, parent of Friendship House resident
“What makes Jaco Hamman and Carolyn Naifeh both extremely award-worthy is that they are exemplars of community servants who, at great personal sacrifice, devote themselves to a cause for little or no return while filling a dramatic need few in our community are addressing.”
Mayor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities in presenting 2018 Professional of the Year Award to Our Place Nashville Co-Founders
“You are really doing it. Congrats on all you are achieving.”
Harold S. Reitman, M.D., Founder, differentbrains.org
“I think that a parent or prospective family would want to know that we do activities, we have dinners and community is certainly built here. However, the best moments are the impromptu moments that are reflective of how relationships are built beyond programming. These moments in cars, in our parking lot, and after dinner for further conversation are where our best relationship building happens. I am grateful for the activities but more than anything, grateful for the growth I have seen in myself in truly knowing that people are worth pausing your day for. That is the heart of community.”
Rev. Chelsea B. Yarborough, Vanderbilt PhD student, Homiletics and Liturgics, and Resident Director, first Friendship House
“Some days [at Friendship House] we celebrate. Some days we don’t agree. Other days we laugh and eat too much pizza (and not enough vegetables) and forget how to be good neighbors to one another. Then, the next day, we begin again. Community is a team sport that takes practice and intentionality. We don’t always get it right, but we try our best to love each other along the journey."