Opportunity House to expand

By Libby John

Opportunity House, a rehabilitation center for adults with disabilities, is planning to open another group home.

The home, expected to open within 1.5 years, will be the organization’s fifth, executive director John Kross said.

“A lot of the parents are getting older, and their sons and daughters are in their 40s and 50s,” Kross said. “We wanted to provide a place for them to live.”

He also said the overall increase in population in the DeKalb/Sycamore area led to the decision to expand the 40-year-old operation.

Opportunity House currently is seeking a location for the new home. Four of the organization’s current homes are in DeKalb, and one is in Sycamore.

Three of the homes have been built in the last 10 years.

The group homes provide people with developmental disabilities a place to live and receive occupational training.

Jackie J., whose last name has been withheld for privacy concerns, has been living in one of the group homes in DeKalb for three years. She said she has learned how to set the table and make her own lunch, among other skills.

“I came here to learn to be more independent,” she said. “I hope to have my own apartment one day.”

In order to live in one of the homes, a person needs state approval and funding. The only expense a potential resident will have is room and board as required by the state, Kross said.

“We are heavily regulated by the state,” he said.

The organization also plans on opening a building for its developmental training program. The facility is planned to be built behind a current Opportunity House location at 202 Lucas St. in Sycamore.

The development training program aids in getting services to people with severe and multiple disabilities.

The new home will be an eight-person house, Kross said. Each person will have his or her own room and will share the bathrooms, kitchen and living room.

“Some homes have sleep-over staff, and some have three shifts,” Kross said.

Hope B. has lived in one of the homes in DeKalb for four years, and said she wished her home had a bigger yard.

“I’m happy I have a room,” she said. “I’m working on my goals, and that makes me feel good.”

Along with having group homes, the organization, which was founded in 1963, provides recreation services and helps people find jobs.

Sometimes, companies ask members of Opportunity House to do projects for them, Kross said.