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Community Impact: Our Neighbor - Inspiring Independence

Thanks to Our Neighbor, a nonprofit agency in Gainesville, young adults with special challenges are gaining the skills necessary to live independently.

The Jackson EMC Foundation recently awarded $11,000 in grant monies to Our Neighbor to assist with life skills and exercise programs the organization provides its developmentally disabled residents. The grant will cover costs to provide occupational therapy and to educate residents about healthy lifestyles and to supply transportation and staff to assist clients at Francis Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville.

With a mission to assist and inspire those with disabilities to reach maximum independence, Our Neighbor provides affordable, handicapped-accessible housing for young adults with physical and developmental disabilities. Our Neighbor’s five homes currently house 15 residents.

“Many of our residents would face life in nursing homes were it not for the services we provide,” says Mary Margaret Calvert, executive director of Our Neighbor.

In 2014, the emphasis of Our Neighbor programs has been on healthy lifestyles. The organization has provided caregivers, community support staff and residents with information about healthy lifestyle choices, including shopping for healthy ingredients and budgeting for and preparing healthy meals.

Exercise at Francis Meadows Aquatic Center is an important aspect of the emphasis on achieving a healthy lifestyle, according to Calvert.

“The immediate measure of effectiveness will be that our residents are healthier and stronger, requiring less assistance with daily living activities,” says Calvert. “Long term, our goal is to ensure that our residents are happier and healthier, thus reducing the need for medical and psychiatric care.”

Learning how to make good lifestyle choices will positively impact Our Neighbor residents and serve them into the future, according to Calvert.

“Feeling informed, healthy and strong will be strong motivators towards increased independence,” she concludes.

For more, visit www.ourneighbor.org.