ROCKFORD, Mich. — A few Grand Rapids men are about to embark on a new chapter in life — one they never thought was possible. It's all thanks to a relatively new program that provides a place to live for people with unique abilities.
“It’s just so hard to comprehend how exciting it is," Tyler Docter told FOX 17 Sunday. "It’s hard to put into words.”
It's a big step, but it's one Docter, 22, is ready to take.
“To me, it means more like, having some pride and having freedom," he said.
Come next month, Docter will be joining two other people at a home in Rockford, all looking to make the same leap in life.
That includes 19-year-old Brayden Wiley.
“When I came here, I was nervous," Wiley said. "But I came here and I saw a house and I was like, 'Whoa, this could be mine. This could be me with two people. I can totally see it.' I was just blown away and super excited.”
This opportunity was made possible because of Homes Giving Hope, a program that started in January 2020 to give people with mild intellectual developmental disabilities the chance to live on their own.
The organization's Co-Founder and Director of Admissions Kay Wood, said, “We just saw such a need in the special needs population for housing, particularly with individuals that were more able than those that maybe are living in group homes or like care facilities. So there was this group of individuals really were being missed.”
Wiley and Docter will be moving into the group's second home. The first came in August 2020 and has four women plus a residence assistant.
Wood said that one's been a success.
“What we see is individuals just really rising up in realizing that they can do life independently and the other huge thing that we're seeing is growth socially," she told FOX 17.
Wiley and Docter will have a residence assistant as well, but that's a role that has yet to be filled. Wood said the RA would live there for free, but more importantly, would be a role model for the residents.
Above all, she said they would be a part of a program that helps people like Wiley and Docter do something that seems impossible and turn it into reality.
“Never have I ever thought I'd be doing something like this," Docter said. "It's just been really great that it's turned out like this.”
Wood said this is only the beginning for Homes Giving Hope. She said the plan is to eventually have a community with about five or six homes and a community center as well.
She hopes it'll happen soon, because 20 people are on the wait list right now to follow in Wiley's and Docter's footsteps.