The 70’s: The Beginning of the Movement
When the husky white-haired man stood up to speak, he commanded the attention of all those present. His questions, delivered in a loud and clear voice, were almost always exactly the same challenging words: "What are you going to do for my daughter? How are you going to help my family and others like us?" The man’s name was Carl Lustig. He and his wife were the parents of Bill and Nancy, two other-abled young adults. Bill attended a workshop during the day, but Nancy, who was both physically and mentally disabled, was confined to her home. She was dependent on her parents to supply her every need. Carl and his wife had devoted their lives to caring for Bill and Nancy. Now, with advancing age, they were growing increasingly worried about how they would be able to continue to cope with this overwhelming responsibility.
Carl worked tirelessly to get programs and services established. The County Commissioners were approached for funding. When meetings were held where civic leaders or politicians would be in attendance, Carl made it a point to be there to present his questions. Other parents were contacted to join in. Wherever and whenever opportunities were available, he would be there. It seemed unlikely, however, that Carl could have predicted what was to follow after he approached Father Dennis Blaney for help.
For a number of years, Father Blaney had been in charge of the Apostolate for the Handicapped. Up until the time he met Carl, the services of this agency were church related. Through Father Blaney’s many contacts with families of the other-abled, he knew and could understand the burden parents faced. In most cases, their suffering was done in silence, but a number of parents chose to confide in Father Blaney. They told him of their worries, their frustrations, and their feelings of isolation. Father Blaney recognized the same desperation in Carl’s words. They were not only questions, but also pleas for help. At this point, Father Blaney became determined that his work must be extended into the general community to serve all those in need, regardless of their religious affiliation.
In 1977, under the direction of Father Blaney, a group of parents of the other-abled joined together to form the Protective Services Board. The main purpose of the board was to find ways to provide help and services to the other-abled and their families. In the following year (1978), the Friends Club was started. Over the years, this organization has been a major source of funding for various programs and activities of many agencies. Even today, their timely newsletter arrives promptly at the start of each month, informing members of the lucky winners for that month. More names are added to the membership roster each year. According to Father Blaney, "the friends in the Friends Club are the best friends in the world".
The most notable contribution made by the Protective Services Board was the survey conducted by the group to determine the needs and priorities of the families of the other-abled. The results indicated that the number one need was relief for the constant caring provided by other-abled family members. In some families, the parents lived a life of almost virtual confinement because there was no other dependable caregiver available. This became the first area to establish services for. The Protective Services Board was disbanded following completion of survey documentation. A new board was then formed, with some of the same members from the Protective Services Board. Their purpose would be to address and implement the training of capable care providers to serve the families of the other-abled. And with this, the movement had begun!
The 80’s: Growth and Development
An organization entitled Respite Care Services for the Handicapped was incorporated in 1980. The board consisted of the parents of the other-abled as well as members of the community who, while not having an other-abled child or relative, were interested in making a commitment to what they believed was a greatly needed service. Father Blaney served as president of the board. This agency experienced growth from the very beginning. Staff was added and eventually a full-time director was hired. Funding came from the Friends Club, the Knights of Columbus, as well as local and state grants. This service continues today, now called Respite Care of Lake County. In fact, senior citizens are now included in those being served through this organization. Care is provided for a few hours or up to two weeks.
In 1982, SHARE Foundation with the Handicapped was founded. It supported small agencies that worked primarily with handicapped people. SHARE Foundation gave, through its support of these agencies, much help to the other-abled. An increase in direct service was noticed and, because of the support of the agency, the board and staff could concentrate on providing quality service. A board of directors was formed, overseeing the Foundation, with the same composition of members as with Respite Care Services.
SHARE’s Programs Grow
SHARE offers a variety of educational and vocational programs to other-abled adults throughout the year including:
Our Mini-Camps have been in existence since the early 1980’s. Mini-Camps are held one weekend each month throughout the year and provide invaluable support, enjoyment, and encouragement to attendees over the age of 18.
Our Summer Camps are held each June and July in five weeklong sessions. Traditional camp activities such as barbecues, arts and crafts, and dances provide the other-abled with socialization. Other-abled campers are comprised of culturally diverse groups of men and women, further enriching their camp experience. Most significant, however, are the values discussion groups that allow campers to tap into their most private emotions concerning issues like "forgiveness", "trust", or "self-esteem".
The 90’s Alternate Living: A Dream Becomes Reality
The most far ranging developments thus far have occurred within the past few years. Our plans for alternate living are now reality. Our programs have flourished and will continue to grow and evolve for the future.
The "Movement", as it is referred to here, means "the efforts and results of a group of people working together to bring about some one thing." Many years have passed since Father Blaney organized a small group of parents of other-abled children to advocate for a support system and support services. Carl Lustig was one representative of a group of parents who were in dire need of help. Carl lived long enough to see care become a reality.
The one constant behind the movement has been the leadership of Father Blaney. Setbacks, disappointments, frustrations, and concerns about funding have confronted him, yet he has persevered through it all. To take that one first step and travel such a great distance in so short a span of years seems almost miraculous. That is, of course, unless one is traveling alongside Father Blaney. He seems to take it all in stride, solving problems that come his way in a sure and steady manner.
The hope of a better future is truly part of the American experience. For the other-abled and their families, that is what the "Movement" is all about. The "some one thing" is the hope and optimism that the future of the other-abled and their families, like the rest of society, can and will be better.
Sharing Meadows Historical Timeline
1991 – Land is purchased.
1992 – Master plan is designed. First road, Mandich Boulevard, is built. Elias Building is constructed for storage.
1993 – Tucker Lake is restocked with fish. Main entrance road, Cidulka Boulevard, is built.
1994 – Three homes are constructed and opened. Fishing shed is constructed next to Tucker Lake.
1995 – St. Timothy Center is constructed.
1996 – Room constructed in Elias Building for woodworking.
1997 – Corporate office is built at Sharing Meadows.
1998 – Ceramic studio and computer lab are in operation. Path to campfire is paved. Pump is installed to aerate and control water in Tucker Lake.
1999 – Third road, Mihalo Boulevard, is built. Three additional homes are constructed
2000 – Village of St. Vincent is opened. Conducted first Capital Fund Drive.
2001 – Addition to Elias Building is constructed. St. Timothy Center parking lot is paved. Signs identifying memorial trees and Tucker Lake are installed.
2002 – Swimming pool and Smolen Pool House are constructed.
2003 – Another storage building is constructed."Welcome to Sharing Meadows" signs installed at both entrances. Support Fund is established.
2004 – Fourth road, Weis Boulevard, is built. Third village is constructed and opened. Construction begins on the guesthouse.
2005 – All Sharing Meadows roads are paved. The Forcey House, for guests and visitors, is completed.
2006 – Mack Boulevard is dedicated.
2007 – Christenson Boulevard is constructed leading to the 4th village.
2008 – Village of St. Jane and St. Joan is opened.
2009 – Pier is added to Hog Lake for fishing and boating.
2010 – Deck is constructed overlooking Hog Lake.
2011 – Construction begins on gazebo overlooking Hog Lake.
2012 – The Coleman Gazebo, overlooking Hog Lake is completed. Road is constructed leading to 5th village. Construction begins on 5th village.
2013 – Village of St. Mary & St. Joseph is opened.
2014 – Memorial Garden is constructed at Sharing Meadows
2015 – Preliminary plans are drawn for the Senior Center at Sharing Meadows
2016 – Ground is broken for the John Largura Family Senior Center
2017 – The John Largura Family Senior Center is constructed and dedicated
Sharing Meadows has a current value of over $2,000,000! That’s Progress!