WINSLOW — Andrew and Tina Chartrand celebrated the first opening Monday of a residence that will give adults with developmental disabilities a semi-independent home.

The Chartrands are the founders and owners of Freedom First Support Services, which they started in September 2015 to do this work. Their first residence, located on Monument Street in Winslow, opened in October.

The house, built in 1953 and now freshly painted in calming blue and updated with new furniture and appliances, is the culmination of efforts the Chartrands started one year ago to provide a safe and “homey” space for their clients.

“We had a vision, about a year ago, where we started talking about providing a residence that was a step above what we’ve seen in our time,” Andrew said to a crowd of about 20 people who came for the open house Monday. “We wanted to create a home that we would live in.”

The residence, dubbed the Winslow House, is “a home like any other home,” said Glenn Broadley, director of services at the Addison Point Agency, which is affiliated with Freedom First Support Services. It has a kitchen, a living room and bedrooms. Two men with severe autism live there now. The Chartrands expect to have completed the licensing to accept additional clients by early 2017. Broadley said there is a large waiting list, so it should fill up quickly. They plan to make the next residence for women.

The six staff members work shifts, providing 24-hour support. They also aim to teach the residents to be more self-sufficient, Broadley said.

“The goal is for them to be as independent as their capabilities allow,” Tina said.

Both Tina and Andrew also work with the Addison Point Agency, which Andrew’s parents founded.

“We’ve worked with this population our entire lives,” he said.

Andrew met a man with severe autism in a facility that wasn’t a good fit, he said, and decided he wanted to provide him with a good home. Later on, they met another parent who thought the residence might be a good fit for their son.

“There are so many individuals that need a safe, stable place to live,” Andrew said.

According to a 2015 news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 adults in the United States has a disability, or about 22 percent. In Maine, about 20.2 percent of adults live with disabilities, according to 2013 data from a nationwide system that surveys people about their health over the phone.

The Winslow House is the third assisted-living residence in Winslow, according to Town Manager Michael Heavener. There is another for adults with disabilities on Cushman Road and a temporary home for young people on Halifax Street, he said.

Since the late 1960s, Broadley said, the government decided that people with disabilities should be in the community and not in institutions, so states started creating more group homes or assisted-living residences.

While it’s less difficult to manage a smaller, residence-style home than a large facility, Andrew said it is more difficult financially. The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments gave the couple a business loan to pursue the project, and the state provides funding for clients through MaineCare.

“We’re not interested in the bottom line,” he said. “We’re interested in making a difference.”

And while the state did put up a lot of red tape for the couple to navigate through, they said everyone was helpful and that the regulations are meant to ensure the people providing the services are “doing it for the right reason.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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