By Pam Dewey • November 25, 2020
In 1935, Louise Whitbeck Fraser started a school for children with special needs in her Minneapolis home. Since the beginning, Fraser has focused on inclusion and independence for peoples of all abilities. Today, those goals remain the same for individuals who make their homes in Fraser Community Living.
Fraser Community Living offers three different living options for teens and adults with special needs: Supervised Living, Supportive Living and Independent Living. Community Living provides a home to these unique individuals, and the staff are deeply committed to supporting them.
Here are 4 things you might not know about Fraser Community Living and its residents.
Supervised Living Homes were named after Muriel Humphrey
In 1960, Minnesota Senator and soon-to-be Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his wife, Muriel, welcomed new granddaughter Vicky. Vicky was born with Down syndrome, and the Humphreys enrolled her at Louise Whitbeck Fraser’s Home Study School in 1963. The Humphreys would become passionate advocates for individuals with special needs and dear friends of Louise.
With the Humphreys' help in 1977, Fraser opened the Muriel Humphrey Residences in Eden Prairie. Because of Muriel’s dedication to the cause, the group homes were named in her honor. Fraser now operates 27 Supervised Living homes for individuals who need more support at home and to participate in their community.
Cynthia lives in Evelyn house, one of the Supervised Living homes. She loves animals and has a hamster named Betty Boop. She says Betty is “really cute.” Her favorite family tradition is going to her brother’s house for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Clockwise from top left to bottom left: Peter from Woodstone, Cynthia from Evelyn house, Hunter formerly of Wooddale house, and Jean (right) of Apple Grove Court .
Supportive Living Apartments offer Opportunities for New Friends
Fraser opened the first Supportive Living apartments in 2011. Fraser Supportive Living has spaces in four apartment buildings for adults with developmental disabilities who require less support.
The Supportive Living apartments are in apartment complexes that also house people who aren’t Fraser residents. This blend of tenants allows Fraser residents to meet and socialize with people in their community. Residents can also have roommates.
Peter lives at Woodstone, a Supportive Living Apartment building. He enjoys going on walks with staff and his job. He also loves watching the trees change color during the fall. Peter is very good at playing Skip-BO, and he usually wins when playing with staff and other Fraser friends.
Independent Living Apartments First in the U.S.
In 1988, Fraser opened its first apartment complex for adults with special needs who could live more independently. The Fraser Independent Living apartments were the first of their kind in the U.S.
Today, Fraser operates five Independent Living apartment buildings for adults with developmental disabilities who can live independently with little support.
Jean has lived at Apple Grove Court, an Independent Living apartment building, for almost 20 years. She likes eating fried chicken and chocolate chip cookies. She is normally very social, going to a day center and seeing her friends. Since the COVID crisis started, she hasn’t been able to do those things. Brian, her staff person from Thomas Allen Inc., noticed she was struggling. He rearranged his schedule so that he could visit on more days, for shorter time periods. Jean is still sad about the virus, but she is doing much better now. She says what she likes about Fraser is that the staff “treats her kindly and understands how I feel.”
Residents Gain Independence
Fraser Community Living staff work with residents to help them gain skills so that they can live more independently. Residents work on skills like learning how to navigate the bus system, clean house, budget, manage money, eat healthily, write a resume, interview and develop relationships.
Hunter was a resident of Wooddale house. Wooddale is a transitional home that helps young men gain more independence. When Hunter lived at Wooddale, he worked on his recipe repertoire to improve his skills with menu planning, shopping and cooking. He would make dishes like goulash to share with his housemates.
Over the years, Community Living has evolved and grown, reflecting the needs of the individuals who live there. The Fraser staff has remained committed to supporting these individuals.
“I love working with the individuals in Community Living. I believe building and nurturing relationships makes a happy life, and I’m so grateful for the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made working here,” says Ginnie Curtis, Senior Operations Manager for Community Living.