In the mid-1970's, as work study students at the University of Oregon, my husband, Alan and I were involved in 2 experimental projects led by two doctoral students, Tom Bellamy and Dan Close. Their theses were intended to determine whether and how severely and profoundly disabled adults who had never lived outside an institutional setting could learn to live successfully in the community. Dan Close, now Dr. Dan Close of the University of Oregon, started a group home for individuals from the state-run institution in Salem, OR, and Tom Bellamy, now Dr. Tom Bellamy of the University of Washington, developed a day program to teach them simple vocational skills. I worked in the sheltered workshop, and my husband worked in the group home. These programs were successful. In 1977 when we moved to Colorado so I could attend graduate school at the University of Denver, the state institution there was beginning to empty out its wards due to budget cuts. That first year Alan and I lived in one side of a duplex, the other side which was a group home Alan managed. Soon the institution asked him to take on more clients and he started a system of group homes in Denver, Tiger Residential Programs. Eventually he had over 80 adult clients living in a variety of settings from apartments to highly structured group homes for individuals with medical needs. Many of the experiences and events described in The Away Place happened to people we knew or worked with, though they have been fictionalized. The characters with disabilities are compilations rather than specific depictions. All other characters in the book are fictitious and not intended to resemble any real individuals.


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