In the fall of 1995, after many years of volunteering and working with programs that benefited adults with developmental disabilities, Becky found a need for the group of high functioning adults who fell between the cracks to have a social opportunity and a safe choice in a place to live. Everyone with varying disabilities seemed to be pooled together in programs where abilities were not being used and the consumers who were high functioning were not given the opportunities that they had the ability to accomplish. Consumers also seemed to have providers of services from several different programs that did not work together as a team to develop the best plan for the consumer. Like most people, if you have a problem at home, it affects your job; if you have a problem at work, it affects your ability to socialize; if you are disabled, your ability to socialize is limited because of monies, not being able to drive, not being able to read, not understanding cost, and being dependent on the family to get you involved or out in the community. Then there is the population of people who have no family to help them with these areas of their lives.
The program was meant to be Becky’s way of helping a small group of adults she had worked with in several other programs but very quickly became one of the largest programs in Georgia. After all, this one had a friend that needed help, his family had a family that needed help, my neighbor was looking for services, and so on. Very quickly, a program that was run out of her home for 15 people had grown to where it is today (2014) with over 250 consumers, 68 staff, 8 buses, 21 vehicles, 20,000 feet of office space and day services, an Independent Living Setting which includes 2 apartment complexes that house primarily adults with DD, Mental Illness or Head Injuries, a Thrift Store that provides job skills training and furnishings for apartments, a Job Development Program, a Sports Program, a family support group (“Just” Families), a Consumer Rights Committee, a Board of Directors and a Day Program. The Social Program, which was the first program, provides opportunities for people to get out into the community doing all the things people do: movies, sports events, concerts, weekend trips, vacations, fairs, go out to dinner, meetings, clubs, and parties. These activities are every weekend and are done in small groups or large groups and most importantly, with friends and support people.
“Just” People has had 5 weddings since inception which meets an Emotional Need that so many people have; someone to love and share life with. Becky found while growing up with a parent with a Mental Illness that loneliness was the reason her father wasn’t a success in society’s eyes. His disability kept him from driving and working. Family and neighbors treated not only him but the whole family different.
Becky feels her ability to understand her consumers and their family’s needs are because of her growing up years. She raised her 3 children with acceptance, respect, and love for people who are different. All 3 children, their spouses, and their children have been involved with “Just” People to so degree. In fact, when meeting most of the group you will hear,” Becky is my second mom.” Putting all services under one umbrella has proven to be the key to much of the success of “JP”. A team is developed that works together to make sure all areas of the individual’s lives are on the same page. The pieces are in place to provide a safe environment to live, support services that meet the needs of the individual, a feeling of family and friends, and the attitude around the program is BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE!