In The Beginning
In 1959, the society norm regarding persons with disabilities was to tuck them neatly into institutions where they could receive care, but give little thought to their quality of life. But in Palm Beach County, determined parents, a caring community, and those with financial means joined forces and charted a course that has forever changed the lives of thousands of adults with disabilities.
Two local parents could not fathom their son with disabilities spending one more day just languishing in an institution. They knew that he and so many others with disabilities deserved opportunities to be treated with respect, find pride in themselves and be trained to work in their own communities.
Palm Beach Habilitation Center is the result of these parents’ efforts that included enlisting every member of the community they could muster, service organizations and people of influence and means, including Rose Kennedy. The county gave them the land – they did the rest.
Setting The Path
So many firsts have happened at Palm Beach Habilitation Center. As institutions began closing, spilling thousands of adults with disabilities into the community, Palm Beach Habilitation Center became one of the first and largest facilities in the State of Florida to provide residential care. But it is not a place to just “house” persons with disabilities. Its mission, from which the center’s leaders have never wavered, is to give those with disabilities training and work. From the beginning, local companies began enlisting the center to sort and package their goods, acreage around the facility was turned into a garden center, and activity buildings sprouted. Each portion of the building has a story, including one administrative building that was financed through fruitcake sales by the Lake Worth Civitan International club. And, another first? The Center has been a leader in partnering with Publix to employ adults with disabilities in its stores throughout Palm Beach County – a partnership that continues to this day.
As the center’s mission says, we want “to ensure that individuals with disabilities in Palm Beach County have the best environment in which to learn, work, and live.”
A Star Is Born
The Center is the hub of the personal and community universe for hundreds of adults with disabilities in Palm Beach County. The goal is to provide the greatest opportunities for all to achieve their top level of independence. To achieve this, the center provides:
- Residential Services – Three group homes provide a nurturing environment for those needing us the most. Supported living provides others with training and support to share apartments or homes with roommates of their choosing, teaching them daily living skills to promote greater independence.
- Vocational Services – With good training and careful matching of ability, many people with disabilities can be gainfully employed. We work with the business community to place people with disabilities into the competitive job market.
- Business Connections – Thanks to the local business community, our workers with disabilities daily package items for order fulfillment in our 6,000-square foot “Instant Factory,” and our “Crew 2 U” supervised mobile work crews work with government and private companies to provide on-site services, including building cleaning, beach cleanup, landscaping, collecting funds from parking meters and so much more. Clients not only learn and perform new skills, but develop greater independence, communication and problem-solving skills while earning wages.
And So Much More . . .
- PACE – Personal Arts and Creative Expression – Our PACE program integrates the arts into all activities, including basic living skills, basic education, current events, exercise and nutrition, interpersonal skills and emergency/safety skills. Community activities allow them to expand their understanding of community resources, especially those related to the arts.
- ASAP – Adult Skills Acquisition Program is designed for adults with significant disabilities who require greater assistance and supervision. The focus is on skills development, socialization, community awareness, self-help, self-care, communication, and physical mobility.
- STARS – Seniors in Transition and Retirement Services – Just as with individuals without disabilities, people with them need meaningful socialization and recreational activities after retiring from work. We offer them a place to enjoy friends and engage in community activities.
Miracles Happen When A Community Cares
We are proud to say that the Palm Beach Habilitation Center is a community success story — Yours! Every step of this journey to transform and inform the wider community about incorporating individuals with disabilities into the community personally and professionally is possible because of You. We want to continue to build on our successes while expanding and innovating services to assist more individuals who need us.
Keep Us in the Sunshine
It took only a few committed people determined to make life better for individuals with disabilities to bring them out of institutions and into the sunshine. Because of Palm Beach Habilitation Center and YOU, thousands of adults with disabilities are living and working in the community. They have gained independence, found pride in their abilities, and have met or exceeded the potential they and their loved ones could ever have imagined for them.
Families of individuals with disabilities want and deserve peace of mind in knowing that when family members are gone, that loved one will continue to have a safe, secure and stimulating place in their community. It means they need us now and in the future.
Palm Beach Habilitation Center needs your help to build on its successes and serve even more of your loved ones, friends and neighbors with disabilities. YOU can help us expand and add services to fulfill growing needs for people with disabilities — now and throughout their lifetime.
YOU can help by giving a donation today or with a legacy gift through your estate planning. The disabilities don’t go away, but showing commitment to them and helping them maintain meaningful lives is within our grasp.