Summer House, Inc., a nonprofit that supports adults with developmental disabilities in Yolo County, is taking this time to reflect on how it got started.
“It’s been a long road over the past 48 years, but we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t seen all the twists and turns,” said Julie Kirby, CEO of the organization. “Due to the pandemic, the past two years in particular have been particularly chaotic, but it has shown that our organization is resilient as we continue to move forward. And therefore, we want to take this opportunity to thank all the families, volunteers, team members, administrators and board members who made this possible.
It all started in 1973 with the vision of Tom Monley, a young teacher at the Greengate School for Exceptional Students. He was concerned about the rights and well-being of his students and wanted more options for students with developmental disabilities when they graduate.
With the support of several families, Monley came up with the idea to demonstrate that Greengate graduates can live much more independently than ever before possible. A house was rented for six weeks as part of a pilot program to determine the feasibility of a house where people with disabilities could live with support. A volunteer staff was then formed, which included Monley, his wife Peg Monley, Pat and Beth Monley, and Betsy Pruitt, a Davis student.
During these six weeks, families of individuals were invited to visit and see the house in action. The hope was that they would get a glimpse of what was possible. With opinions so strongly expressed that these six residents needed a home, the pilot program became a reality.
Within three weeks of opening, Summer House was sued by neighbors. Fear and misunderstanding on the part of the neighbors made the existence of Summer House uncomfortable.
The lawsuit raised a fair amount of support for what Summer House was trying to accomplish and provide for people with developmental disabilities. Ultimately, Summer House agreed to a settlement and sought more suitable accommodation to accommodate both men and women.
Summer House was able to purchase a quadruplex on 5th Street in Woodland. A new not-for-profit corporation was formed in December 1974 under the name Summer House, Inc.
The opportunities offered by the new home attracted many who wanted to live more independently and enjoy the company of their peers while developing their life skills. The quadruplex has been expanded over the years and now serves 12 residents.
In 1993, a second residential care home in Davis was opened with support from HUD funding. In the late 1990s, the community integration program was launched. Today, more than 80 people are supported in the four programs of the Summer House.
For more information, visit https://summerhouseinc.org.