Since the Downsize Farm story began in 2001 when Midge and I moved our family onto the 2 plus acres on Parkview Road, the journey has really been quite an adventure for us. Among the roads in eastern Champaign County, Parkview Road is one of the straighter links of the cursive paths around Woodstock. Just ask Keith Knutson…if you don’t have a keen sense of direction, you can travel five miles and still end up right back in Woodstock. In some regard, the journey has been winding, filled with more than enough drama, as we have sought to encourage and support friends we have met along the way whose lives have been challenged by various disabilities. In other regards the road has been straight forward…how can we enrich the quality of life for those that choose to travel with us?
The characteristic of an adventure is that there are often opportunities and obstacles that are encountered that require courage and skill to stay the course, and use of all the tools on your Leatherman and your iphone to respond to the challenging needs of the moment and the day. During 2014 a tanker full of resources were transported into the Job Center at 927 N Main in Urbana. Bobbi graduated from Heidelberg in June, ready to run the Spotted Cow Coffee Shop. The driving force was not so much an opportunity to sell some coffee, but brewing in the world of developmental disabilities was a new emphasis on providing and supporting employment for individuals with disabilities. The new roast of “Employment First” was highly touted as a gourmet blend of government bureaucracy, but would require an acquired taste to enjoy the cup when served.
The original vision of Downsize Farm for our particular brew-crew of Levi, Eric and Randi was “what are these guys going to do when they’re in their 20’s?” Our professional background mixture of dairy farming, pastoral ministry, social work and agency oversight had proven by experience that the traditions of a rural Ohio life-style could in fact “enrich the quality of life of each program participant through the nurture of individual skills and positive social relationships that enhance personal options”. While we could validate our original mission in the lives of 50 plus clients that we have served, the new “person-centered” emphasis being promoted also had a pleasant aroma. Stereo-types of disabled individuals isolated on county farms and working in detention camp conditions served to remind that country air is not always pleasant to the senses. The question for our crew now is not whether Downsize Farm is a place where they can be happy, but will it start them on a journey to discover and be known for their personal contribution to our community?
So 2015 arrives with a new opportunity for Downsize Farm to support the clients we serve to develop their personal potential, integrate into their community and contribute with their unique abilities. Over the coming months, we will develop and talk about our theme of “Working Together for Good” through our “Just Right Jobs” programs at the Job Center and “Life is Looking Up” activities that will travel out from the Downsize Farm location. We also anticipate the start of Wednesday and Friday schedules spreading into the Marysville area. Plans are already “on the road” to meet the challenges of the new rules being adopted by the state and county DODD. To guide and communicate this new emphasis, an updated mission statement will be adopted and lived out. While we will maintain our whole life approach to services of “Live, Love, Laugh, Learn and Leave a Legacy”, watch for more information and opportunities for clients, families, staff and other agencies to come along side us as we are: “Working Together for Good!”
The Mission of Downsize Farm is to be:
“A passage and a partner
Of help and of hope
To live purposeful and productive lives”