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‘Home Of Our Own’ to provide adults with special needs independence in their own community

NEW GLARUS (WKOW) — As children with special needs become adults, continuing to care for them as they live at home can be difficult and can limit their independence. In rural areas, there often isn’t any place other than home they can live and receive care. That’s why two moms in New Glarus started working on Home Of Our Own, a housing complex with units specifically designed for adults with special needs.

“Both of our children have autism, complicated with other medical issues,” said Home Of Our Own co-leader Susan Wallitsch, referring to her son Franke and co-leader Mary Anne Oemichen’s daughter Amy. “Both are nonverbal. And both, as young adults, require quite a bit of support.”

Wallitsch said that beyond the support they need, they want to enter adulthood on their own.

“These are young adults who, like most other young adults, want independence from their parents,” she said. “My son Franke doesn’t want to spend his adult life living with his mom and dad. He wants to be able to shape and live his own life.”

Home Of Our Own will have 40 units, with 10 units specifically designed for adults with special needs. These units could have special architectural elements, like soundproofing for residents sensitive to sound or special lights for residents sensitive to light.

The remaining 30 units will be open to anyone, with 25 available for people making $22 an hour or less.

“The hope is that with all of those gathering spaces that there is going to be opportunities for there to be a lot of socialization… between the special needs population and the other individuals who will be living there,” said Oemichen.

Wallitsch and Oemichen say they plan to break ground on the complex this fall and open in 2020. While it’s funded in part through tax credits, the remainder will have to come through fundraising.

They’ve partnered with a Wisconsin-based crowdsourcing organization called 100 Extraordinary Woman to help with the $500,000 they need to raise before they open. The organization is asking 100 women to each donate or pledge $1,000 to the Home Of Our Own campaign, which can happen either in a lump sum or monthly over 5 years. More information can be found on the Home Of Our Own and 100 Extraordinary Women websites.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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