SPRINGBOARD LANDINGS TO OFFER INDEPENDENCE, LONG-TERM HOUSING FOR THOSE WITH MILD DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
BY HANNAH HERNER
Like many nonprofits before it, Springboard Landings came out of a need. Charlie and Pat Cooper wondered, “what happens when we’re no longer here?” and unable to ensure their daughter Susan is safe and cared for.
Springboard Landings, which received its 501c3 status in 2010, is getting closer to creating a home for Susan Cooper, and people like her, who have mild developmental disabilities. This includes, but isn’t limited to, people with learning disorders, vision impairment, limited social skills and autism spectrum disorders.
“The best way to describe this population is that they are a little slower than average to learn new information or skills. But with the right support, most will be able to live independently as adults,” says John Cooper, Susan’s brother and the president of the board of directors for the organization.
The Cooper family has struggled to find programs for Susan over the years. Many of them focus on those with intellectual or disabilities that require more focused care. They look to build on programs like The Employment and Community First (ECF) CHOICES program, that helps people with disabilities get employment in Tennessee — many such programs have waitlists, they said.
To help fill in the gaps that family members typically fill, there will be a manager onsite at Springboard Landings. In the yet to be built complex, roughly 12 individual apartments will open up into a shared space for meals, education and entertainment.
“I can pretty much take care of myself but I still need to learn a little more about cooking and I’d like to learn how to use my laptop,” Susan Cooper says.
The organization was given some land from an anonymous donor in Murfreesboro, but opted to sell it and use the money to build the community in Nashville or Bellevue. They want residents to have access to shopping, jobs and transportation.
“It’s not going to be isolated. We want them integrated, we want them to be seen, and we want them to be part of society,” says John Cooper.
Susan is excited to live in her own apartment someday, and looks forward to playing favorite games like UNO and Yahtzee with her neighbors. Springboard Landings will undoubtedly host some friends from the Springboard Network, a group of people with developmental disabilities who would meet weekly in Nashville before the pandemic.
“There might be some challenges at times to get along with others but I’m learning how to get along with others who are different than me,” Susan says. “I’m excited about living with people that are similar to me, that also have disabilities, and that have things in common.”
Visit SpringboardLandings.org to learn more, donate or sign up to volunteer.