Bainbridge house for developmentally disabled closes its doors
By TAD SOOTER
Bainbridge Island Review Reporter
March 23, 2009 · Updated 8:59 AM
After a year of uncertainty, the final resident left Bainbridge's Serenity Court Wednesday.
The group home for developmentally disabled adults, owned by Kitsap Consolidated Housing Authority and managed by Low Income Housing Institute, has been slated for closure since April 2008. The historic Pleasant Beach house and surrounding property are up for sale.
Over the last year, all 18 former residents have been relocated to outside adult family homes. Two have moved to a home on Bainbridge.
"Some are not feeling quite happy about the move, some really didn't want to go," said Donna Dahlquist, who manages Helpline House's developmental disabilities program and aided in the transition of Serenity residents.
Wendy Mitchell, who directs Serenity for LIHI, said she will finish cleaning the building and vacate by the end of the month. Serenity's 9 staff members are also moving on.
The Serenity facility, and it's 3.37 acres, are listed by island real estate broker Marillyn McLauchlin. Those who have worked closely on the Serenity issue believe a deal to sell the property is nearing completion.
Bainbridge Mayor Darlene Kordonowy, who as a KCCHA board member has been involved in the property, said she still hopes some residents can return despite the loss of the home.
"I am still emotionally involved and I am still committed to see what we can do to bring some of those people back," she said
KCCHA has plans for another facility near the intersection of Manzanita Road and Hidden Cove Road, but that facility won't be ready until July, at the earliest.
The closure leaves only one adult developmentally disabled facility on the island, Hope House, which serves six residents. Two of Serenity's residents are now staying at Hope House.
Dahlquist believes the closure of Serenity highlights the lack of care on the island for disabled adults.
"We are way behind the ball when it comes to providing this kind of service to other residents," she said. "We've been making a lot of backwards movement in the past couple years."
Longtime Serenity employee Marilyn Boyce said the relocation of residents has been heart wrenching for all involved.
Serenity was home to adults ranging in age from 20 to 93. Some had shared the house for decades.
"I have been here 20 years and this is my family," Boyce said. "They have lives and I think people forget that."Contact Bainbridge Island Review Reporter Tad Sooter at firstname.lastname@example.org or by email.