The ACRES House
In December 2016, Adam Fernsler and Frank Peno purchased a 3,800 square foot former group home at 2400 Bernel Road, with the expectation that the ACRES Project would start their first programs on this site. ACRES then signed a lease with an option to buy starting in March of 2017. We received a generous donation of $10,000 from the Decibel Group to start us off.
Since then, ACRES has continually transformed the house and its two-acre greenspace into a comfortable support center for individuals with autism. Located less than five miles from Penn State University Park campus, but surrounded by a relaxing rural environment, our home-like facility is a perfect "home base" for social, educational, vocational, and volunteer opportunities. With so much to offer, participants can develop lifelong friendships, gain crucial job development skills and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The ACRES house is a special place.
Just beyond our front door is our spacious open kitchen area and workspace. This is the heart of the house, providing the perfect space for everyday life lessons, cooking classes, shared meals, homework help, TV watching, and socializing. Just off the kitchen is a large covered deck which offers a place to relax, enjoy the rural scenery, and listen to the birds. Our family room includes comfortable seating for social groups, activities, and events, while the bedrooms and sitting room upstairs provide quiet work spaces as well as opportunities to practice life skills. The levels of our home are connected by large, two story staircases where our community's artwork and donor plaques are showcased.
The lower level of our facility contains the workspace of Acres Artisans, an entrepreneurial craft business operated by adults with autism. Here, participants create handcrafted soaps, embroidery, and personalized products to sell to customers at craft shows and online. This floor is also home to a washer/dryer and several small pets, including guinea pigs, a turtle, parakeets, and finches. Many of our participants enjoy interacting with and caring for the animals. The shared PC can be used for work or play. It has a virtual reality system that places users in a variety of fun VR games and simulations which reinforce life skills, build confidence, or just provide a relaxing virtual environment when a break is needed.
We recognize the importance of preserving green space, and we have put just as much thought into what is on the outside of our facility as we have about what is inside. Our home features beautiful rural views on three sides of the main building. The surrounding land is abundant with large maple trees and there are nearby trails for walking. A variety of outdoor activities are available, including access to Bernel Road Park, which is located just across the street from our facility. Our spacious backyard is well-suited for gardening, allowing participants to comfortably engage with nature while cultivating a variety of flowers and vegetables. Our property also includes a state of the art aquaponics greenhouse, which provides horticultural therapy, employment, and community integration for adults with autism and intellectual disabilities while contributing to the sustainability of the Centre Region.