Saturday, July 9, 2016 @ 9am
Mary Chris Semrow
Consultant to Families
Mary Chris Semrow is a Consultant to Parents for Specialized Housing Inc. of Brookline, Massachusetts. They are one of the first organizations in the nation to create a supportive housing model for adults with disabilities living in a condominium home in greater Boston and Maine.
Mary Chris is a parent of a 27 year old daughter with autism and a founding parent of 20 E Street in South Portland – the first home-ownership model in Maine for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Mary Chris came to this work, not as a clinician or social worker, but as a parent who wanted her high school aged daughter to fulfill her daughters dream of a life of independence––living with friends, working and just enjoying everyday life activities. Undaunted by the challenges, she would not accept a future for her daughter limited by dependency and isolation.
Looking down the road, she did not see an easy path to independent living for her daughter. She and other parents learned that funding from State and Federal programs was not going to come their way for years due to long wait lists for other disabled Maine adults. She did her research and found Specialized Housing in Brookline, MA, an organization that had a proven model that could be replicated in Maine.
With Mary Chris’ leadership it took three and a half years from the first meeting with Specialized Housing to move in day. Like-minded families who wanted the same for their children were found. A building in South Portland was purchased and renovated, staff hired and the new residents moved in. That was in May of 2010 and the nine residents, their families and staff will soon celebrate the sixth anniversary of the community. The E Street community is close and stronger, residents are living in their own home and acquiring new work and living skills. Families now have peace of mind knowing that their adult children are in a safe, supportive environment.
Mary Chris will be instrumental in the formation of the second house in South Portland at 14 E. Street in South Portland. As she did before, she is helping another group of families fulfill the dreams of their adult children––to live independently with others. Three families have purchased the property at 14 E Street in South Portland and they are now looking for seven more families to join them. Mary Chris through her first hand knowledge and experience will help them from the start of the project to move in day to their new home––right next door to the house where her daughter and friends live.