FARMINGTON — Achieving goals by helping special needs adults interact in the community is the basis of a new social awareness program moving to Farmington.

Families Matter Inc., a nonprofit organization started in the Augusta area in 1992, began its Personal Social Awareness Program with two clients in 1996. It now serves 45 adults and has expanded to include a center in Waterville and now one in Farmington.

“With plans to serve up to 25 adults in this area, we chose Farmington because families here needed some options, and it has a lot to offer for recreational activities,” said Richard Compagnon, program operations manager for Families Matter.

President Ed McNaughton and Compagnon went before the town’s Planning Board this week for approval of renovations for the center at 218 Fairbanks Road, the former Farmington Construction Office.

Serving adults over 18 with who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate disabilities such as Down Syndrome or autism, the program helps them develop independent living skills, safety awareness and integration into the community with fun yet learning activities, he said. They work on individual goals, and once they achieve one a team from the center sits down and designs another goal for the individual to work toward, he said.

The center plans to be open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. While based out of the center, many of the activities take place in the community, such as going bowling or out to a restaurant for lunch and working on goals while doing fun things, he said. Expecting to employ five, the ratio of adults to employees on their outings is three to one.

Activities will be held at the center during inclement weather or for planned events such as working on cooking skills. We work with them to go out and do some grocery shopping and then have them help with food preparation, Compagnon said.

What the clients do is up to them though, he added. They get to vote as a group on what they want to do, and we support it as long as it’s therapeutic and appropriate, he said.

When individuals consider attending Families Matter, they interview us. “We’re just another opportunity for them, and we need to be a good fit for them,” Compagnon said.

The program, which is supported by MaineCare and other funding providers, expects the adults to have a case manager or someone who’s already helping them in the system.

The office opened this week, and Compagnon has already received two referrals, he said. Anyone interested in the program can call him at 592-6823 or e-mail [email protected]

[email protected]

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