Though 650 Oakhurst Drive doesn’t look much different from the front, the house has changed a lot over the past four years.
A Creative Solution
It started when Matt Koupal and his wife first realized their son Luke, who has special needs, would need a creative solution if he were to maintain his way of life as an adult.
“Where is he going to go? Luke loves living here, his house, with his dog. There are very few group homes and spaces available in Naperville so we were really stuck as to what to do where he was going to go,” Matt told Naperville News 17 in 2015.
They came up with the idea to convert their current home into a space where Luke and other young men with special needs could live. After working with the city to allow it through zoning, they built an addition onto their home where the Koupal parents would live – near enough to be available, but separated to give Luke independence.
“It’s really a beautiful model for him to have the fullest life and yet stay here in his home,” said Matt.
Working with Ray Graham
Early in 2019, they finished their renovations and this summer, the Koupals worked with the Ray Graham Association to get the new roommates moved in. Ray Graham caretakers also provide 24-hour support for the boys.
“I think it speaks to everything we do at Ray Graham,” said Ray Graham Chief Development Officer Mark Langan. “We have a person-centered approach to what we do. So each individual that’s a part of our organization, a part of our care, we sit down and put together a plan for each of them to figure out how they can live their best life.”
Matt said in February 2019 he thinks they are the Koupal family are the only ones in Illinois undergoing a project like this. But he hopes families with special needs will see their model and be inspired to get creative themselves.
“You need to think about the future and I know the future’s a really scary place. If you don’t have a plan for your son or daughter with special needs and you’re aging, you need to kind of develop that vision. The model we’ve created here is an option for you to think about,” he said.
A Successful Arrangement
And so far the new arrangement is going well.
“I love it to death. It’s awesome-sauce,” said Anthony Baldwin, one of Luke’s new roommates. “It’s got everything a disabled person needs!”
“Because I don’t see Luke everyday now, intentionally, the times that I do see him, our time is more special,” said Matt. “He’s ready for me, I’m ready for him. And we can have that special time together.”
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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