In December 2016, Adam Fernsler and Frank Peno purchased a 3,800 square foot former group home located in rural Patton Township, 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.
ACRES has transformed the house and its two-acre greenspace into a support center for individuals with autism. Here, we provide opportunities designed to complement vocational and volunteer experiences. 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.
The main floor has a large gathering room with comfortable seating for social groups, activities, and events. It is also home to finches and parakeets who fill the house with birdsong. Our large, open kitchen area is the heart of the house, providing the perfect space for everyday life lessons, cooking classes, shared meals, homework help, and socializing. Just off the kitchen is a spacious deck which offers a place to relax, enjoy the rural scenery, and listen to the birds. The office, bedrooms, and sitting room upstairs provide quiet spaces as well as opportunities to practice life skills. The levels of the home are connected by large, two story staircases where our community's artwork and donor plaques can be showcased.
The lower level contains a sensory room, virtual reality computer, washer and dryer, and several small pets. Our sensory room is a relaxing environment with mood lighting, a swing, tactile artwork, and a small trampoline allowing for movement, music, and sensory
integration activities. Our virtual reality system places users in a variety of fun games and simulations which reinforce life skills, build confidence, or just provide a relaxing virtual environment when a break is needed. Many of our participants enjoy watching or interacting with the ACRES pets: five guinea pigs, a rabbit, and a red-eared slider turtle named Spike, who has been the classroom pet of Executive Director Bella Bregar for almost 40 years!
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 (located just across the street from our facility). A peaceful, environmentally-friendly sensory garden will allow residents to comfortably engage with nature. The local land is well-suited for cultivating a variety of plants, making our community the perfect location for vegetable and butterfly gardens. It will also house our aquaponics greenhouse, which will provide horticultural therapy, employment, and community integration for adults with autism and intellectual disabilities, all while contributing to the sustainability of the Centre Region.