News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 16, 2013

UCP helps handicapped persons stay in homes

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Christine Haynes knows well the effects of Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, a disease with which she was diagnosed while a young girl.

“I hurt all the time. My legs hurt, my arms hurt and my hips hurt and I have arthritis also,” Haynes said. “It affects you more as you get older.”

Yet this week, Haynes got a bit of relief from that pain with the comfort of a new 1,100-square foot home, provided through United Cerebral Palsy of the Wabash Valley (UCP).

“The home offers wider doorways and wider hallways. The bathrooms are wide and have grab bars. There is a walk-in shower. The kitchen has a low sink and is open in front. If you were in a wheelchair, you would still be able to use this space,” said Susie Thompson, executive director of UCP as she toured the new home Friday with Haynes. March is Disability Awareness Month.

Haynes had been living in a UCP facility for 14 years and then moved out. However, within months, Haynes soon discovered it was very hard to live in a place that did not have handicapped accessible spaces.

In addition, Haynes said her condition will worsen as she ages.

“I know it will get worse in the future and this home just gives me peace of mind,” Haynes said. “Where I was before, there were stairs and I was constantly falling down the stairs and even falling up the stairs. I was just so glad when they got this house done, it was not funny, so I would not have to go through that anymore. It is hard to find handicapped accessible places.”

Haynes, 46, currently has a part-time job, but said when the time comes that she will have to use a wheelchair, she will be in a home that will allow her to continue to go about her daily life. The home has two bathrooms, one with a full walk-in shower.

She and her husband, Chris Haynes, moved into the home in the 1400 block of south 131⁄2 St. last week, along with her children Jeremy Roberts, 23, who has a cognitive disability, and daughter Brittany Roberts, 21.

UCP has 12 apartment units at its offices at 621 Poplar St. in Terre Haute. In addition, UCP has 23 apartment homes throughout Terre Haute, all equipped for people with disabilities, Thompson said. Last year, UCP serviced 146 customers.

“We deliver more than 2,000 hours of services to help people stay in their home, such as going to get medicine or buying groceries or helping with their laundry,” Thompson said. “Some are cognitively delayed and we help get them services for things they can’t get on their own.”

The Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment works with UCP to obtain federal funds to construct the homes, Thompson said. UCP pays for the homes through low interest loans and owns the homes after 20 years. The city’s assistance allows the homes to be rented at $500 per month, much less than up to $7,000 a month for a nursing home, Thompson said.

“We know without this in our community, there are a lot of people who would be living in institutions, in nursing homes or with their families,” Thompson said. “We serve people with disabilities period.”

UCP, while providing information and medical referrals, also has more than 400 medical equipment devices such as wheelchairs, walkers or braces, to loan out. In addition, UCP has an adaptive learning lending library, providing equipment like learning iPads to children, educational toys and communication devices. “We have over 3,000 items in our lending library,” Thompson said.

UCP moved into its current offices on Poplar Street in 1998. The agency has been in Terre Haute for 60 years, first starting as Beacon School, then becoming affiliated with the national UCP in 1957. UCP serves people in Clay, Greene, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.

“UCP is about advocacy and support. It is really about life without limits for people with disabilities and that is our focus on everything,” Thompson said.

UCP can be reached at 812-232-6305 or via email at upalsy@ma.rr.com. The agency’s web site is ucpwv.org.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.