The concept of The Friendship House first came to fruition in Holland, Michigan, in 2007. Now, there is one in Fayetteville. The Friendship House serves young adults with intellectual development disabilities by pairing them with roommates who are often college students or young professionals. The goal is to help these young adults, but often, it’s the roommates who gain the most. The Friendship House Fayetteville is the fifth Friendship House to use this model.
“We did change our model to focus more on health care and allied health care graduate students and students,” said Tara Hinton, director of community relations and philanthropy for ServiceSource. ServiceSource, a larger nonprofit, is the leasee in partnership with Highland Presbyterian Church of the campus. It oversees operations of Friendship House Fayetteville.
Hinton explained that, while Friendship House Fayetteville is not a caretaking facility or group home, it developed its health care-leaning culture because of its resident director, Dr. Scott Cameron.
“Dr. Cameron’s experiences were life-changing and caused him to open up and become more passionate for those with disabilities, personally and through his practice of medicine. He is the visionary for Friendship House Fayetteville,” she said.
Cameron lived in Friendship House Durham during his seminary training. He is currently a neonatal intensive care unit physician at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. He also serves as the volunteer chaplain and resident director for Friendship House Fayetteville.
“(Fayetteville community members) took a field trip about 3 1/2 years ago to The Friendship House Durham, and a couple of community members were interested in helping see this come to fruition,” said Hinton. “We spent many hours there talking to the students, and they were all divinity students.
“We learned how living at Friendship House changed them. One student made me tear up when he told me he signed up to make a difference, but the individuals changed him and made a difference in his life more than he could ever help them.”
Hinton added that the visitors traveled back home with the idea to build a Friendship House in Fayetteville — and they made it happen.
In each apartment at Friendship House Fayetteville, there are four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
“There are three people living with one friend resident, and the friend resident is a young person who has an intellectual development disability such as Autism or Down syndrome,” said Hinton. “The goal for those parties is for the friend resident to maximize their interdependence, whether that’s cooking, budgeting, grocery shopping or transportation to a job — and ServiceSource helps with that piece of the puzzle.”
Hinton added ServiceSource has a job coach who helps the friend residents obtain gainful employment, find volunteer positions in the community and become productive. The other three roommates, usually students, are there to share life and friendship with the resident. This gives the resident the ability to live amongst their peers and feel included.
“Our focus today is recruiting students and young professionals,” said Hinton. “This is a wonderful opportunity to look at people with different abilities and spiritual gifts and to appreciate those gifts and talents — because none of us are perfect.”
All-inclusive expenses for this living arrangement are $450 per month. The apartments are located in central Haymount. For more information, call 910-826-4699 ext. 249.