Expanding horizons

Agency finds housing for people with disabilities

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Linda Roper can thread a needle using only one hand. She has to.

With only limited use of her right side, Roper uses her left hand and her mouth to separate threads and stick them through the eye of her needle.

Her most recent project is her next quilt, and she does needlepoint on many of the squares she uses.

"She threads her needles by herself. It's pretty amazing," Beverly Krieger, a counselor at Roper's group home on School Street, said.

Horizons Specialized Services placed Roper there, as the nonprofit agency aims to find housing for individuals with developmental disabilities.

"Our goal is to mainstream them in the community," Adult Community Coordinator Michael Toothaker said. "And this community has been very supportive."

Roper, who has paralysis and mental retardation, moved into the group home three years ago, when she came to Craig from Idaho to be closer to her sister, Mary Jane Horrocks.

"It gives her independence without having to live with me and having home care," Horrocks said. "I'm very grateful that there are programs and group homes like (Horizons has)."

Quilting is not Roper's only hobby. In the living room of her home, Roper and one of her roommates have covered an entire wall, and then some, with completed puzzles they spent hours putting together.

Roper also enjoys shopping at garage sales and thrift stores, where she is known to find amazing bargains. She once bought 12 puzzles for $1.

She also spends time at Head Start, where she is employed. She monitors the playground and hand-washing in the bathroom. She also sets out food and cleans up the cafeteria after the children eat.

She works at Head Start on Mondays and Wednesdays for 1 1/2 hours each day. With the money she earns, Roper said she likes to buy more puzzles.

Roper lives in one of the five group homes in Craig, each providing a home to three or four residents. These clients receive what Toothaker refers to as comprehensive services.

Horizons also offers supported living services to other clients in the community. Counselors work with more independent individuals on specific skills, such as vocational training.

The agency currently employs 25 part-time and full-time staff members and serves 34 clients in Moffat County.

Much of Horizons' operating costs come from Medicaid, as well as federal and state funds, with additional help from fund-raisers and local agencies.

"United Way is a real big supporter of what we do, and has been for years," Toothaker said. "They're huge for us in their contributions."

United Way is holding its annual fund-raising campaign. This year's goal is $320,000, and the campaign runs through Nov. 19. Tax deductible contributions may be made by contacting the agency at 824-6222.

Horizons can be reached at 824-7804.

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