PRESS RELEASE. After 20 years in the making, the Big Wave Project, entirely privately funded, is building an “intentional community” that is one of only several in the U.S. ~ November 16, 2020
Half Moon Bay, Calif. – In California, approximately 175,000 adults with special needs live with family members, and they are aging. When their caregivers pass away, where will these vulnerable adults live and who will take care of them? Jeff Peck, co-founder and CEO of Big Wave, thinks the answer to this question should address quality of life as a key part of the equation.
As a parent of an adult with special needs, Peck had a vision of creating opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities to live and work outside their parents’ home. After a 20-year effort and raising $25 million funded entirely through private donations and from parents of adult children with special needs, Big Wave has begun construction of a community that will accommodate up to 57 residents by the Fall of 2021.
“This is a serious economic question for the San Francisco Bay Area: where will they go?” says Peck. “Parents of adults with special needs are in their 60s, 70s and even 80s. The number of adults with special needs is growing. Our current system, which does not provide jobs or a community for these vulnerable and often isolated people, will soon be overwhelmed without a creative initiative such as this.”
Steve Bacich, chief technology officer and founding partner, MED1 Ventures, who coaches the Big Wave baseball team, has followed the Big Wave business model, which he says is unique to intentional communities across the U.S., where people with developmental disabilities have an 85 percent unemployment rate.
“Hiring people with developmental disabilities, who often really want to work, can solve many persistent problems for business owners.” says Bacich, “This model takes the liberty of understanding many of the work issues business managers struggle with. Jeff Peck’s brilliant vision with Big Wave simultaneously helps local business owners, adults with special needs, and our entire Coastside community.”
The project will provide not only safe housing, but a variety of jobs, and a peer community for adults with special needs, as well as allow local businesses on the adjacent property to employ and support adults with autism and other developmental disabilities so that they can experience the dignity of work and the support of their peers.
Big Wave business partners will include local start up and incubator companies who will provide living wage jobs for Big Wave residents. Local businesses who have already signed on include Bubbles and Blooms; Sammy’s Café; and One Step Beyond Inc. Peck says that along with construction jobs, the community will benefit through a partner in employment and training for that employment. This, Peck adds, will add a boost to the local and state tax base.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 54 U.S. adults has autism. That is only one of many conditions that are seeing an increase in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to autism, adults with special needs include Asperger’s, Williams Syndrome, Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Deafness, Down Syndrome, Medically Fragile, Fragile X, Speech/Apraxia and other Intellectual/Cognitive Disabilities.
Many experts believe that adults with special needs can, need and want to work. Big Wave will set goals with the adjacent Big Wave commercial tenants to hire adults with special needs at a livable wage. In addition, Big Wave will work closely with multiple vendors, which already provide employment training to adults with special needs.
“My daughter Sarah will be able to work and learn on site at the culinary academy, flower shop or any other local business or training facility. It will help her feel useful and fulfilled. But what is most exciting is that now she will be able to live and interact with her peers,” says Jeanne Carlson, a Woodside resident. “I can finally relax knowing that she will be cared for throughout her adult life in a meaningful way.”
For the last 20 years its principals have spent $25 million and followed the legal path to approval after approval, including meeting all environmental regulations.
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About the Big Wave Project
The Big Wave Project provides the venue and family support for adults with special needs, as well as ensuring that they have affordable housing, job and career opportunities, as well as emotional support, by forming alliances with organizations that have a proven record of innovative programs. These programs incorporate vocational, residential, and peer support in a comprehensive and nurturing environment to help each person achieve new skills and confidence, ensuring local families the best chance of success for their adult children. The new Big Wave property is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2021. Visit bigwaveproject.org for additional information.
Contact: Sarah Sherwood, 650-380-9102