Nonprofit opens home for developmentally disabled residents
A newly constructed home in the region will house up to four men with developmental disabilities, while providing them with the individualized support they need.
The Muskegon-based nonprofit MOKA said that it opened Forest Trail Home this spring in Fruitport, at 3088 S. Hilton Park Rd.
It replaces a previous county-owned residence in Muskegon Township on Annette Street, which was operated by MOKA since 1980.
MOKA supports children and adults with autism, mental illness and developmental disabilities throughout West Michigan.
Tom Zmolek, executive director at MOKA, said all individuals served in MOKA-operated homes are referred through the local community mental health agency, which in this case is HealthWest, formerly Community Mental Health for Muskegon County.
The home employs 11 residential support staff and one home manager.
The nonprofit supports more than 900 individuals and provides more than 750,000 hours of direct service annually.
Zmolek said Forest Trail Home provides more personal space for individuals, as well as modern technology and efficiency updates that MOKA was unable to provide previously in the leased home.
The new home features 3,000 square feet of livable space with sustainable, accessible and durable features.
“One example is the trim is built from through-colored composite material, so when it gets scratched, it’s the same color under the paint,” he said.
The home is also barrier free, features energy-efficient LED lighting and a tank-less water heater.
Zmolek said residents will also benefit from the neighborhood.
“In keeping with MOKA’s mission of inclusion and acceptance, homes situated in a beautiful subdivision like this enhance their individual reputations, fight stigma typically associated with developmental disabilities and facilitate relationship building with friends and neighbors,” he said.
Zmolek said support for Forest Trail Home and others like it has been “tremendous” and shows how much society has advanced in its understanding and acceptance of individuals with developmental disabilities.
“Community attitudes have changed in a positive direction with neighbors and public officials alike understanding the critical need for all citizens to be welcomed and included in our communities and neighborhoods,” he said.
Construction began on Forest Trail Home last November and was completed in May.
The total project cost was about $440,000, which was obtained through a combination of grant funding through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, a construction loan from Muskegon-based Community Shores Bank and owner’s equity.
Jen Reinink of JR Inspired Interiors served as the interior designer on the project.
The home was designed with input from a focus group assembled by MOKA.