Easton's House of Possibilities Eligible for $250,000
December 14, 2011
by Paula Volger
Taunton Daily Gazette
Photo left: Best Buddies student coordinator, Domenique Ciavattone '13 with Best Buddy Evelyn Petroski.
With $500,000 on the line, Paula Kavolius is excited.
Kavolius, founder of the House of Possibilities (HOPe) in Easton, said she envisions helping so many more families with respite care for at risk and/or special needs kids with that money that she wants to get the fundraising out of the way well before a June 30 deadline.
"It will just be mind boggling how many families we'll help," Kavolius said. "It will help us sustain this program for years to come."
Located on the campus of Stonehill College, the House of Possibilities provides programming and weekend respite services to families with children or adults with cognitive and/or physical developmental challenges.
Kavolius said the organization must raise $250,000 to receive a matching $250,000 from Doris Buffet and the Sunshine Lady Foundation.
"If we raise $250,000, we get $250,000. If we don't raise it we get nothing," Kavolius said. "That's what a matching grant is."
Kavolius said she and a fellow board member saw a story on television about Buffet, sister of Warren Buffet, and her interest in respite care for families. Kavolius shared the story of her organization and Buffet's group gave them $25,000 in 2009 and $100,000 in 2010.
She said so far $75,000 has been raised toward the matching grant and a major event will be planned for the spring to raise the balance. Kavolius is looking for 30 to 50 individuals capable of getting the fundraising done.
Last year, more than 150 kids with a wide range of disabilities were able to use the services at the House of Possibilities.
New executive director John Guisti says what is unique about HOPe is, rather than walking into a place that feels like an institution, people feel like they are walking into a home that is connected to the community.
Rather than a focus on in-house programs or vocational piecemeal work sitting at desks and tables, Guisti said HOPe programs bring the kids to interact in the community. Visits to the Ames Free Library in Easton allowed one girl to expand her passion for cooking while learning how to use a computer to research recipes and cooking tips while another young man learned about how libraries work while helping to re-shelve books.
Use of the sports complex at Stonehill College allows the kids to get some exercise on a college campus where they just might run into their Best Buddy, a Stonehill student who is paired up with each child in the program. Some kids also spend their time volunteering at Mansfield Shredding, My Brother's Keeper in Brockton, the cafeteria at Sinai Hospital in Stoughton, and at a local day care.
Some of the kids take advantage of going to a yoga class, visiting a gym twice a week with a personal trainer and even art classes a volunteer from the community holds at the house.
"It's tough to find something like this on your own," Guisti said. "It's very important these individuals are part of their local communities."
Other programs offered included a Saturday six-hour respite or an overnight 24-hour respite for families, according to Kavolius, with a sliding fee scale based on income.
There is a Snack and Chat time two afternoons a week where teens with Aspergers or other social disabilities get together to shop, prepare, and cook meals with kids like themselves and also a once a month Saturday Night Live social planned by the kids.
"This grant will help hundreds and hundreds of families," Kavolius said. "We recognize that the need for respite services is no longer a vision, but a necessary reality to improve the quality of life of care-giving families."
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.