Programming for those with developmental disabilities
By Todd Morgan
GRAFTON—LISTEN is a new provider in the Grafton area that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. While new to Walsh County, LISTEN has been helping people improve their lives in Grand Forks since 1970. Listen provides a whole realm of services for people with developmental disabilities whether it’s day services or residential services. According to Executive Director Christy Potts, LISTEN provides residential services and operates a community center.
“We are a community provider in Grand Forks and Walsh counties,” she said. “We provide day services for adults with developmental disabilities and also residential services.” Potts said by residential services LISTEN supports both individuals with developmental disabilities living in their own apartments and family support services for those families caring for a loved one at home. “The family support services are for children or adults living within the family home,” Potts said. LISTEN has a site in Grafton on Lessard Avenue for their day services.
“We have been transporting six individuals from Grafton to Grand Forks for day services during the week,” she said.
According to program director Jennifer Contreras, LISTEN day services provides individuals more opportunities within the community whether it’s through voluntarism, jobs or relationships. “In Grafton it’s a smaller community so there are only so many jobs,” she said. “In a lot of those facilities you go to work with the same people you live with in many cases. With LISTEN they can continue to live where they’re at and still come to our day programs.” According to Contreras, individuals can choose to come one day a week or or as many days as they want. “There is no transportation fee,” she said. “It provides the individuals the opportunity to choose their days and services.” According to Potts, LISTEN has been a local non-profit independent entity in Grand Forks for more than 50 years providing services to developmentally disabled individuals. Just over a year ago LISTEN began branching out into the Grafton area. They recently broke ground on a new $6.4 million community center near Grand Cities Mall on South Washington Street. The facility is expected to be open to the public sometime this June.
“We support people who also use Developmental Homes here in Grand Forks, REM in Grand Forks and Grafton and CHI in Grafton,” Potts said. “They have those companies as their residential provider and in many cases have chosen us for their day provider.” “It’s an opportunity for individuals to further build relationships outside of their home communities,” Contreras said. “Everyone who is able to come here loves it,” Potts said. “The guardians are very satisfied also and bring a lot of encouragement and recognition to our staff.”
A big part of the programming at LISTEN involves social activities, whether its monthly celebrations or music and animal therapy. “The fire department comes once a year and goes over fire safety and everyone can see the truck,” Potts said. “The police department comes in once a year. We go to movies, go to Turtle River State Park, go to Fargo to the air museum, the Wahpeton Zoo, Bonanzaville, craft shows, the ag show at the Alerus Center, the library, we help with the Salvation Army bell ringing, we help out at the thrift stores and many more places.”
While there are six people from Grafton utilizing day services provided by LISTEN there is opportunity for many people to participate in what is going on through LISTEN. “Families or guardians can reach out to us and let us know they are interested in our services,” Potts said. “Services LISTEN offers is Medicaid funded.” Anyone interested in learning more about LISTEN can reach them at 701-746-7840 or by reaching out to Potts at Christy@listencenter.org.
The goal of LISTEN day services is to help people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to become as independent and self-sufficient as possible. The programming, according to Potts is personal and individualized. It is a safe and secure environment, nationally accredited and funded by North Dakota Department of Human Services.
“Once a year we put on a play at the Empire Theatre in downtown Grand Forks and we have dances every Friday night at the community center that are open to everyone,” Potts said. There is also a plan for a big celebration for the grand opening of their new facility in June to keep an eye out for. “We are glad to be able to reach out to the Grafton area and provide services that we believe really enhance and improve the lives of people,” Potts said. “We encourage anyone who has any questions to reach out to us. We would be happy to answer any questions.”