As Paul celebrated his 78th birthday, he stood admiring the inside of a nearly eight-year-old community dream, a personal care home for adults with developmental challenges.
The Lamar & Barbara Paul home is at 30 Brookvalley Court.
“Isn’t this wonderful,” Paul said with a smile directed at his 29-year-old grandson Michael Paul, who gleefully ran about the home hugging and giving the nearly 100 visitors and guests tours of his new bedroom inside the Developing Independence, Growth and Security home for men during the home’s open house and ribbon-cutting celebration.
Michael Paul, a Rome High School graduate, was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome, as a youngster. He plans to be the first resident in the $250,000 five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home — that includes a separate caregiver’s suite — in the Brookwood Estates subdivision.
DIGS Executive Director Barbara Monday said Michael Paul needs three more roommates and a few caregivers, and a few finishing touches need to be completed before he can move in.
DIGS, partnered with Developmental Disability Ministries out of Norcross, is currently accepting applications for both caregivers and potential residents. Applications are available on the DDM website, ddmga.org.
Monday said the home, which still needs a few pieces of construction work and must be inspected, should be fully-functioning with a complete staff and full residency by spring.
William Neal, president and CEO of DDM, said resident applicants need to be at least 18-years-old and male. Caregivers need to have a high-school graduation diploma or equivalent to be on the staff.
“We have all different ages, so we try to put together people who are compatible,” said Neal about potential residents. “For the staff that we’re looking for, we’re looking for people who have a heart for this ministry and make good caregivers, but they also have to be able to do the paperwork.”
DDM plans to hire two full-time staff members and two or three part-time staff members to manage the home.
Monday said the dream to start a care home for adults with disabilities came from a personal need to find suitable housing for her own son, Tom Dahn, who was diagnosed with a severe speech and language disorder.
“My son, I needed a place for him after I was gone or couldn’t care for him anymore,” said Monday as she fought off tears. “We wanted to a safe and secure place. We wanted it to be their home. Today has been such a great day of mixed emotions. It’s been awesome.”
On Saturday, it definitely appeared that Michael Paul was at home.
“Everything … it’s perfect,” said Michael Paul, as he admired his newly-donated, dark wood bedroom furnishings, donated from the Horizon Bay assisted living home.
And while Lamar Paul, who has been Michael’s primary caregiver since he was 7-months-old, said he is excited to see “his sixth child” gain more independence with his own living quarters, he said won’t be far away from his grandson.
“I live in the green house next door,” laughed Lamar Paul. “We’ll be neighbors, but now I know he’ll have his own beautiful place to call home.”