Thrive Community NC An Extraordinary Place for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities



Have you ever wondered how people plan for their adult children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)? The parents of these children have to think long-term. They need to put in place a plan that will care for, protect and help their children grow as people and as a part of our society. This planning can be very stressful for the parents. But what if there were a place, a community if you will, that would welcome these adults, provide them with housing, employment, programming, and social engagement as part of a long-term sustainable solution? The creators of Thrive Community NC are working towards creating a place like this right here in the Triad.

Creators Erika Mielke and Kathy Murray initiated the idea for Thrive out of a need that was close to their hearts. Both of these women are mothers to children with these needs, and are faced with long-term planning for them. Mielke said, “We both had been looking at what our options would be when planning the future for our children. There were models around the country for communities where children like ours could work and live to sustain themselves beyond the years that their parents would be able to care for them. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything like that in our community.” By working together, they were sure they could create a community in this area that could serve their children and many others. And they also believe that as parents, they could have an inside perspective that could help them create this community in a very thoughtful and serving way. 

Thrive Community has taken great care to assess the needs of our community. Focus groups were held in Winston-Salem, Kernersville, and Clemmons, and the resulting report determined that the need for this type of community is strong and so is the desire to support it. They also looked at the statistics. North Carolina ranked 41st in the effort to support individuals with IDD. Only 15% of individuals in NC with IDD work in competitive employment settings, versus the national average of 19%. And only three other states have higher rates of institutionalization for individuals with IDD. This information serves to validate the need for Thrive Community.    

The vision for Thrive is to build a community with three components: residential, programming, and commercial. The residential component will start with a multi-unit residential building of one and two-bedroom units to provide independent living. They’re also hoping to provide a housing subsidy for at least half of the units, which would address parental concerns about how their children will afford sustained living, and the number of housing resources available. Housing is primary but longer term goals include a community center, featuring amenities like a gym, a restaurant, gathering spaces, classrooms, and a media center and partnering with community organizations to utilize the spaces for programming and vocational training. The commercial component would be adjacent to the residential section and be available for businesses to locate to. The goal would be for those businesses to participate in vocational training programs and offer employment to the residents, building bridges and breaking down stereotypes and misconceptions about adults with IDD.  

Getting this fantastic vision up and running will take a community effort, and on August 7th, Thrive Community NC will be hosting its first fundraiser at Tanglewood Pizza Company. TPC will donate a portion of the revenue from that evening’s sales to Thrive Community, so come out and enjoy dinner in a family-friendly environment. There will be a cornhole tournament at 3 p.m. Two-person teams can register for $20 per person. TPC will donate all registration fees to Thrive and will provide the winning team’s prize. There will also be a silent auction which will begin online about a week before the event. By downloading the app Event.Gives, you can bid and get notified if you are outbid, so you won’t need to be at the event to participate. Finally, there will be a concert by the band Hawthorne Curve from 6-9 p.m. with raffles on the half-hour during the show. There is still a need for volunteers and donations for the raffle and silent auction items. 

If you can’t make it out on August 7th, but you still want to give, you can also make donations to Thrive at their website, or Use Amazon Smile to donate a portion of your Amazon purchases to this fantastic cause. 

If you would like to learn more about Thrive community NC or see how you can help by making donations or volunteering your time, visit their website at thrivecommunitync.org. You can contact them by calling 336-485-5655 or by e-mail at info@thrivecommunity.org.


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