I first met Sandy Baker through No More Sidelines of Muskegon. Her son Eric, or as he was known by all of his classmates "Big E", participated in No More Sidelines and he made quite a splash in his days at Reeths-Puffer Schools as the prom king, announcement reader and all around source of awesomeness. They are avid fans of the Muskegon Lumberjacks and no matter where they go, they seem to collect amazing people to help them further what has become a truly remarkable nonprofit that is growing by leaps and bounds. Sandy has crafted a model by which young adults can find their way to as much independence as they can handle. Eric has Downs Syndrome, but he's really never been any different than the other kids. And like any other kid, there comes a time that they need to spread their wings a little.
Yes, kids with Downs grow up and where they might need a hand from time to time, they are like anyone. Funny, smart.....there are the "teen years" who doesn't love those...but as young adults, how do you keep them from wanting to continue with life like anyone else? Simply put you don't. Now the question becomes...where do they go to get that taste of "adulting". Sandy got to work, and in a matter of a few years of research, hunting, non profit forming and again, surrounding herself with all the right people.. Gracious Grounds was born.
A former Hospice residence was found to plant the first Gracious Grounds flag, nestled away on a quiet street in Grand Haven. The house has 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, common areas, a kitchen, office, a really awesome home theater in the basement and every resident has their own personal room. They can decorate in their theme... Big E happens to love the Dukes of Hazzard so as you can imagine...there's plenty of that. Some like Star Wars, some like sports...it's really no different than any other you. They have their own televisions, fridges, bathrooms...personal care items....you name it. It's a remarkable facility...and a remarkable mission.
I had a chance to stop in and see Sandy at Gracious Grounds, take a listen to our chat.
There are people in this world who create miracles. As Gracious Grounds grows, both in and outside of Grand Haven, you're watching one happen. It's amazing what a mothers love..and a pretty good background in her field..young people with unique abilities will know what it's like to be a grown up. Some of the residents there have shown "remarkable progress" in life as well as independence. We all understand what it feels like to accomplish something on our own...it's really amazing. Be the good! If you'd like to know more, make a donation or maybe get tickets to the gala...click on the photo below!