FARMINGTON – The Farmington-based Life Enrichment Advancing People program was recently awarded a $175,000 federal guaranteed rural development loan to purchase two new facilities in Chesterville and Wilton.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe announced the award on April 4. “Assisted living facilities allow people with developmental disabilities to actively participate in their community and expand opportunities they might not otherwise have,” said Snowe and Collins in a joint statement.

“This grant will allow LEAP to purchase facilities in Chesterville and Wilton to help more disabled residents in the Farmington area maintain optimum health, expand relations and really experience life.”

According to Rick Dorian, executive director for the nonprofit LEAP, two residential homes recently purchased will be refinanced for less thanks to the grant. The addition of the two new residences, a three-bed home in Chesterville and a two-bed home in Wilton, brings the LEAP total to eight, with seven of those homes in Franklin County, and the other in Minot.

The program works to empower people with disabilities to lead joyful lives with dignity, independence and autonomy by providing them with comprehensive and individual support, according to LEAP’s mission statement. LEAP services are paid for by Medicare reimbursement and the agency is a participating member in the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area.

The homes are set up in neighborhoods and no signs are posted to announce the home is an assisted living facility. “It’s as typical as every other house in the neighborhood,” Dorian said.

At the homes, 125 staff members help a combined total of 34 residents with mental retardation and developmental disabilities cultivate living skills and teach them to “live somewhat independently in the community,” Dorian said.

Residents of all ages learn skills such as meal preparation, shopping, laundry, involvement in the community by attending local dances, working out at area fitness centers, going to church and being involved in work programs or holding down part-time jobs.

Residents are placed in homes located in communities where they grew up, or have close family. “It’s a great way for them to be active with their families, but still be independent,” Dorian said.

In the past, LEAP has rented several homes in the area, but Dorian says it’s easier to own the homes so that they can be properly maintained and kept up to code. “It’s a way for us to really make sure things are well taken care of.”

The arrival of the new home in Wilton has also created four more jobs.

As for the new loan, Dorian is “very much” excited.

“It really helps us be able to keep our service affordable,” he said, citing interest rates which lowered by full percentage point on the newly purchased buildings.

For more information about the LEAP program, visit

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