Home Medford News Medford resident helping to start community for adults with autism

Medford resident helping to start community for adults with autism

Medford resident Libby Majewski has worked with autistic children for more than 20 years. Specializing in relationship development intervention therapy, Majewski has been in contact with dozens of children with autism over her career.

Now, Majewski is working with a new nonprofit organization to help those same children ease their transition into adulthood.

Moorestown resident Tim Downes founded Touchdown Communities in 2013 to create a community for adults with autism. Downes, a father of two teenagers with autism, approached Majewski about getting involved because of her background in the field.

“I’ve been working with them for a very long time,” Majewski said. “This was his vision to create something long-lasting and sustainable for his kids.”

The organization is building its community from scratch. It is in the process of purchasing a 50-acre property in Burlington at the intersection of Elbow Lane and Route 541.

“It will be very close to the newly renovated Burlington Center,” Majewski said. “That will provide the opportunities for employment in that commercial area.”

The proposed property will include living quarters for 66 adults that will include hydroponic greenhouses where residents can grow plants and vegetables and later sell them to the surrounding community.

The hydroponic greenhouses are part of the plan to make the residents more independent and teach them a variety of skills to be used in multiple professions.

“All of the things it takes when you look at success in employment, it’s not just hard skills,” Majewski said. “It’s problem solving, collaborating, blending your ideas with other people’s ideas.”

There are other autism-specific communities in New Jersey. However, Majewski says their community will be different. They want to include programs to continue and help residents’ development.

“We’re bringing in the idea that we’re not just creating work and living solutions, but we’re going to do it in a way to develop emotional intelligence, with having each resident work closely with a personal guide,” Majewski said.

The organization has been taking its business plan to potential sponsors and businesses for fundraising. Majewski said it is a multi-million dollar project requiring a large financial commitment from numerous organizations.

Developing the business plan and receiving feedback has been Touchdown Communities’ main project.

“When someone looks at our business plan, we want it to be solid and something worth investing in,” Majewski said.

One of the tough parts about moving the project forward is the time required to meet with organizations.

“One of the biggest challenges is probably that we are all volunteers and we are all working in our own personal careers,” Majewski said. “This is something we’re doing in our personal time.”

Touchdown Communities has begun to make connections. It has forged a relationship with Arthur and Friends, another nonprofit organization providing training and employment opportunities for adults with autism. Arthur and Friends will provide services for Touchdown Communities.

Finding additional volunteers is going to be critical for the community. Majewski said they are hoping to find volunteers to run the community’s programs.

“Having a very supportive community of volunteers will help us achieve what we want to achieve,” she said.

Touchdown Communities is accepting donations to go toward the project. For more information or to donate, visit www.touchdowncommunities.org.

Exit mobile version