By BROOKE WANSER
Leaders of community organizations that serve disabled individuals spoke about their organizations on Monday morning during the FrankTalks program.
The talk, entitled “Changing Lives in Williamson County,” included heads of nonprofits Waves, Inc., BrightStone, ABLE Youth, and High Hopes, Inc.
Each representative showed a video about their organization’s mission and individuals being helped.
Brenda Hauk, the founder and executive director of BrightStone, said the organization serves adults with disabilities, who are given projects and learning opportunities, including a baking enterprise.
Hauk said the food products students create are sold locally, including at the Savory Spice Shop in downtown Franklin.
The nonprofit is currently developing a strategic plan to expand with a residential campus for adult students, which she hopes to open by December of 2020.
“The number of individuals with special needs in this county is growing exponentially,” she said.
She spoke about the dire need in the state for more services for adults with disabilities who age out of the state’s system and are left with little in the way of programs and learning opportunities.
“Families have public school from age three to age 21,” she said. But after that, “there’s no more school, there’s no more transportation, there’s no more therapy,” she said.
Lance Jordan, the executive director of Waves, Inc., which helps provide programs and therapies for children and housing for adults with disabilities and special needs, said the oldest resident with Waves is 91.
“This table supports Williamson County residents from age zero to 91 right now, and that’s pretty awesome,” Jordan said.
Gail Powell, the executive director of High Hopes Development Center, said the center and preschool has been in the county for nearly 34 years.
She also pointed out that one in five homes in the county are dealing with a family member with special needs.
High Hopes provides physical therapy, speech therapy and has a preschool with eight classrooms where children both with and without special needs learn alongside one another.
Executive Director of ABLE Youth, Amy Saffell, herself in a wheelchair, said children that rely on wheelchairs grow confident through the organization, which gives them the opportunity to play wheelchair sports.
“As kids get older, they learn from one another that they can really be independent,” Saffell said.
Hauk also thanked community leaders for taking the time to acknowledge and work towards solutions for people with disabilities in the county.
“I thank you for all the parents of individuals with special needs, that you’re valuing their lives as members of this community,” she said.