Hulda Cook's legacy is community home for son, others with developmental disabilities
As a mother of a child with developmental disabilities, Hulda Cook often asked herself a basic question: Who would care for him once she was gone?
And as a teacher in Warner Robins, GA, she met other parents coping with the same stress. It was this concern that inspired Heart of Georgia Developmental Disabilities Ministries to build a home 11 years ago that provides safe and secure independent living for Hulda's son and others in their community.
"This is Hulda Cook's legacy: A warm, family-like environment where adults with developmental disabilities, including her son, could thrive long after she was gone," says James Yawn, Heart of Georgia DDM board member and brother of Hulda, who died in 2014. "It's a blessing to walk in and see how happy everyone is at the house, for these adults to have a home of their own. It's a happy place, a necessary place."
The house is currently home for six adults — three men in one wing and three women in another, with shared living space. Hulda's son Dany Cook lives in the home, and her other son Andy Cook, leads the fundraising for Heart of Georgia DDM.
The home was built by the families of some of the residents as a place to care for them as they aged and outlived their parents. Residents at the Heart of Georgia DDM home are generally self-sufficient. A small team of full-time and part-time employees provide leadership, assistance and some care, including transportation to jobs and medical appointments. The team, supported by volunteers from the community, also coordinates weekly outings and in-home activities.
Recently, Heart of Georgia enclosed the back porch to provide more space for the residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The home is on two acres of church-owned property and fundraising is currently underway to build a second home next door. Plant sales, community concerts and garage sales supplement online donations.
"We want even more families to benefit from a home like this," says James, who as Heart of Georgia treasurer is assisting with the fundraising efforts. "The residents truly love being in the home and creating friendships with the other residents and their guardians are able to rest easy knowing they are being cared for."
To learn more or to donate, go to heartofgeorgiaddm.org.
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