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Nonprofit that helps disabled adults live on their own honored

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 28, 2015

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The Michigan Business and Professional Association will award a Troy group that aims to help adults with intellectual developmental disabilities a Best of Michbusiness award in the Nonprofit Beacon category next month.

According to the MBPA website, the association “supports programs and initiatives that impact approximately 150,000 businesses across the state.”

Jennifer Kluge, president of the MBPA, said that out of over 600 nominations, approximately 100 companies will be honored in various categories.

“They are doing fantastic work,” she said of Troy’s On My Own.

Bruce Benson, executive director of On My Own of Michigan, said the nonprofit serves adults with intellectual developmental disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders and other impairments.

He explained that it’s a two-part program. The entry level offers social programing and independent living skills classes, such as cooking and bill paying, and a wide range of enrichment classes.

The second phase is the independent living program. After the members complete the socialization programs, some members live independently in the Somerset Park Apartments in Troy.  Some have lived there since 1997. Currently 29 On My Own members do so.

“If they are living at home, their network is primarily family,” Benson said. “Our goal is to break through that barrier.”

Concerned parents who wanted to give their adult children with intellectual developmental disabilities opportunities for socialization and to help them live on their own founded the group 18 years ago.

He said the organization serves 54 people. Funding comprises member fees, sponsorships and donations. About 7 percent of the budget comes from state and federal funding, which Benson expects will decrease.

“The majority of our members are employed,” Benson said. “We’re big on giving back to the community.”

He said that members donate their time at the Detroit Zoo and local humane societies.

“There is a powerful sense of community among the members,” Benson said, noting that members of On My Own belong to their own bowling and softball leagues.

“It gives them a connection with a lot of people,” Benson said.

On My Own will receive the award Nov. 17.

For information about the program, visit onmyownofmi.org or call (248) 649-3739.

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