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Apple Patch has been a landmark in Oldham County for more than 10 years, but you may be surprised how much you don’t know.
Apple Patch offers residential living options, a variety of day programs and clinical services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, all of which have shaped the lives of residents.
Both employees and participants in the programs have a passion for Apple Patch. “Whatever you’re giving them comes flooding back to you,” said Joe Spoelker, director of development and marketing at Apple Patch.
“Once people are around them, they’ll find they’re delightful individuals,” he said.
Independent living: Celebration Park
Celebration Park is located on 20 acres in Crestwood with the potential for 76 single-family home sites. However, only 10 of these sites are reserved for Apple Patch residents.
The goal of Celebration Park is to offer a neighborhood where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are part of the fabric. In turn, the hope is that they will foster friendships with neighbors.
This setting invites people with and without disabilities to live in the same neighborhood. It is designed to be highly responsive to families and their adult children who have waited for quality residential options.
The hope is to integrate individuals with disabilities into a safe social setting.
Shavon H., an Apple Patch resident, said, “I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for Apple Patch. Apple Patch helped me get back on my feet.”
Some residents come from loving families with ailing parents, but others have overcome a lot to reach Apple Patch. A few residents were previously physically assaulted, abused, homeless or neglected.
No matter what environment the residents leave, they find safety and security at Apple Patch.
Joe Spoelker, director of development and marketing, recalled an instance in which one of the residents had been living with her family in toxic conditions. He remembers that the first time she walked in the door she began sobbing.
Spoelker was surprised since it should have been a joyous moment.
When asked what was wrong, she simply said, “I made it.”
Resident Becky W. said, “I do like the independence. We’re like one big happy family.” She added, “We have meals together, we help each other.”
She said making connections has been one of the best parts about Apple Patch, “I would have never met them if we weren’t here,” she said.
Three Apple Patch residents live in each home in Celebration Park.
“I think of it as mine, even though I don’t own it,” Becky W. said.
Each home is newly constructed and highly accessible. The layouts feature large open spaces for gathering and large individual bedrooms with private bathrooms.
Spoelker said, “They want some semblance of control over their lives.” And Apple Patch provides just that.
Residents perform household chores and are in charge of their own space.
Executive Director Chris Stevenson said the goal is to get residents away from a sedentary lifestyle and encourage less loneliness and depression.
Apple Patch currently has 19 staffed residences serving a total of 54 individuals. Each home is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by direct support professionals.
Shirle Millstead, a neighbor of one of the Apple Patch residences said, “They’re great neighbors, they don’t raise any problems.”
Millstead said she and her husband invited the Apple Patch residents over during the holidays and they loved her Christmas tree.
Unlike many organizations, Apple Patch strives to include individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community.
Focus on Education:
Apple Patch offers day programs for both residents and nonresidents seeking education during the week.
APEX is a day program facility at Foxhollow Farm off Ky. 329, with a similar location in Hikes Point, Louisville. They focus on educational activities with subjects from culinary arts and music to history and science.
The art program works on pieces throughout the year for an art show. The proceeds help pay for supplies for the following year.
One of Dusty E.’s art pieces recently sold for $800.
The facility has both a library and computer lab to keep up with technology. The touch-screen computers help with finger manipulation and hand coordination.
APEX also focuses on real-world skills like personal hygiene, nutrition, money management and social interaction.
“Our folks are not objects of pity,” said Stevenson. He described how they have the same desire to be included as everyone else.
“We find that it’s more valuable for individuals to have a full array of services,” he said.
Individuals at APEX have the opportunity to take multiple outings each day. Past visits include the Speed Art Museum, the Louisville Science Center and Newport Aquarium.
APEX offers a transition program with high schools in Jefferson, Oldham, Henry and Shelby Counties as an option for individuals with disabilities after they graduate.
For those at APEX, they enjoy attending because they learn something every day.
Bobby King, director of day services, said, “If they want to learn it, we’re going to teach it.” The curriculum adapts to individual interests from the sinking of the Titanic to Elvis Presley.
Apple Patch also offers a learning center with programs geared toward memorization, specifically designed for individuals with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s and autism.
Joe Spoelker said that individuals who have previously had behavioral problems don’t have them as consistently at Apple Patch because everyone is kept busy.
Those enrolled in the day program learn their schedule early on and spend the day moving from one activity to the next.
In total, they serve about 110 individuals in day programs but have reached their maximum.
Jennifer King, assistant director of day services, said, “The only reason we can’t take them is space.”
How far they’ve come: History & Future
In 1988 a group of parents dreamed of a place where their adult children with intellectual and developmental disabilities could live and work independently.
In the late 1980’s, adult children with disabilities began outliving their parents. Parents said their greatest fear was that there would be no one to care for their adult children after they were gone.
One of the founding mothers, Michael Kappesser, said, “We ourselves were getting older and needed a place for our young people.”
In response to the ever-increasing demand for quality residential living, these parents created Apple Patch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to accomplishing this dream.
The original parents hosted a book sale, worked concession stands at an antique mall, worked bingo and any other opportunity they could to raise money.
Frank and Peggy Otte donated the land in Crestwood in 1997, which they had previously planned to be the site of a nursery and garden center.
“They [the Ottes] realized there were all these families that needed help and that they could be part of the solution,” Spoelker said.
“We thought it’d be a great way to use it. It’s really serving the folks who need it,” said Frank Otte. Otte’s son is also a resident at Apple Patch.
Originally, Apple Patch planned to develop an exclusive community that would provide residential living to individuals with disabilities only. However, after research, the group decided that inclusive living in the general community was best.
Stevenson said, “We focus on quality…quality services, quality programs, quality facilities.”
Apple Patch has secured a $1 million federal grant for the construction of a 125-space park-and-ride. This facility will replace the temporary park-and-ride found off I-71 at exit 14.
“The county wanted to have an opportunity that’s more long-term and aesthetically pleasing,” Stevenson said about the project.
“Oldham County has been so wonderful to support us in every endeavor we’ve had,” he added.
Stevenson said it is just a matter of time before they start construction, he expects by the end of year or early 2012.
The grant allocates $340,000 towards an interior road that is essential to providing value for potential commercial property at Apple Patch. Stevenson said he hopes this will help create an income stream and employment opportunities for Apple Patch residents.
“We’re excited about where we’ve come, but I believe our best days are to come,” he said.
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