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An even brighter Sunshine

May 1, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: May 1, 2016


TOLEDO, Oh – The ground-breaking May 2 for two single-family homes in southwest Toledo signals the beginning of a uniquely “intentional” community – one that offers people with intellectual and developmental disabilities new friendships and social connections.

While most of us can take friendship for granted, people with disabilities don’t always have that luxury. Too often, they have lived apart from their community, limiting opportunities for meaningful, lasting relationships – yet human connection is what enriches our lives most.

“People with developmental disabilities too often live in our communities without having a sense of belonging that comes from lasting relationships,” said Betty Holland, CEO of Maumee-based Sunshine Communities since 2007. “When we began plans to help more people live in the community, Sunshine’s Board of Directors was determined that we would do it in a way that helped people belong.”

The 16 men and women who move into the new homes will enjoy immediate social connections with neighboring Little Flower Catholic Church and St. Benedict Catholic School.

“At Little Flower we dare to see and embrace the good things already present in the Reynolds Corner area of Toledo and labor to make them better. We exist to be a great neighbor. Genuinely caring for each other always makes for a thriving community,” said Father David Nuss.

The new partnership extends the unique, long-standing efforts of both Sunshine and Little Flower to integrate people with disabilities into the broader community.

Since 1950, Sunshine Communities has served adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 1978, the nonprofit agency was the first in Toledo to open a family care home. Today, in Sunshine’s 15 homes throughout Lucas and Fulton counties, nearly 100 individuals enjoy living in such small-scale, family home settings. The two new homes near Little Flower will be the 16th and 17th. Three more homes are planned under a $3.5 million capital campaign, Amazing Happens Here Every Day, which is being announced Monday as well.

Little Flower, meanwhile, has long embraced people with disabilities. For decades, it has been the home church for people with disabilities, welcoming them not only to join mass, but to serve as ushers and greeters.  In 2013, Little Flower completed major renovations – ensuring the entryways, narthex and sanctuary are accessible. Although churches are exempt from federal accessibility laws, Father Nuss said such accommodations were absolutely necessary in any remodeling.

“This is a holy place for all – not for a privileged few,” Father Nuss said.

The Little Flower-Sunshine partnership is just one part of a larger, interfaith capital campaign. Sunshine is affiliated with Mennonite Health Services, and the leadership of Sunshine and its capital campaign represent several faiths. Sunshine is dedicated to supporting all individuals, regardless of religious affiliation.

Respecting individual choice – in everyday routines and in larger, life-changing decisions – is at the core of Sunshine’s mission to support people with disabilities where they live, work, play and worship. The Little Flower invitation to build two new homes will make possible countless new opportunities for its new neighbors.

The event at Little Flower, 5522 Dorr St., begins at 4 p.m. Remarks will start promptly at 4:20 p.m.

CONTACTS: At Sunshine — Communications Director Robin Erb at rerb@sunshine.org or 419-340-3604. At Little Flower — Father Dave Nuss at 419-537-6655.