Dream begins for disabled Galesburg residents

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Galesburg is sealing a deal worth more than $8 million in economic development. It’s a public-private partnership to create new housing for the developmentally disabled.

There’s construction equipment on the move on Thursday.

“Today is the beginning and fulfillment of a dream,” said Bobby Dillard, administrator at St. Mary’s Square Living Center.

A dream that’s becoming reality at St. Mary’s. This is the first of 25 group homes for Galesburg. It will house eight adults when complete.

“They’ve always wanted to have a home of their own,” Dillard said. “This is getting closer and closer to being in the house of their own.”

St. Mary’s is a familiar presence in Galesburg. Open since 1977, it serves 225 adults with developmental disabilities. Moving them to smaller homes will create a more open, independent setting.

“We’ve never developed group homes for a population that may be as medically fragile as this group,” said Donald Fike, rfms president. “It’s going to be a great challenge for the staff and residents.”

While the project is designed to improve lives, it’s also an investment in the community. The kind of investment that creates jobs and opportunities for Galesburg.

One reason why officials used ceremonial shovels for the ground breaking. These projects will sustain 250 jobs while growing dozens of new jobs for construction and the homes.

“This is a project that’s going to be huge for Galesburg,” said Mary Crittenden, day program director. “There’s going to be so much.”

Teaming up with Galesburg, developers are restoring vacant lots to the tax role. It also saves city money to maintain the lots. Most of all, discovering a new place to thrive.

“Make new friends,” added resident Angela Yackle, 32.

Friends for a new kind of home that’s designed for the future.