By Justin Swanson, Special to the Independent
An astounding token of charity from a Laguna Beach couple will be fostered this weekend at the Glennwood House Walk and Roll-a-thon.
Residents Linda and Mike Mussallem have generously presented a challenge grant, promising to match all donations to the Walk and Roll-a-thon up to $150,000 by Aug. 31 in support of the Glennwood House.
The Mussallems helped with the first loan and down payment on the Coast Highway property, a former retirement home for the elderly that is expected to re-open next year as a residential home for developmentally disabled young adults. “They’re hearts are in the program,” said Executive Director Shauna Bogert.
“Linda and I are enthusiastic supporters of Glennwood and its mission of providing a rich, more independent living environment for young adults with developmental disabilities. Having both grown up with brothers with Down Syndrome, we know that finding opportunities for independence and friendships for these individuals is often challenging and we are happy that there will now be a solution for this need in our community,” said Mike Mussallem in a statement. He was said to be unavailable for comment.
The fundraiser, which will take place Saturday, July 14, in Laguna Niguel between Aliso Creek and La Paz Road from 10 a.m. to noon, is a part of a final push towards breaking ground and beginning the refurbishing of the property, which needs updating and aesthetic improvements.
Totaling up to $1.25 million in approved remodeling plans, the project, which breaks ground on Aug. 11, aims to be completed by January 2013, when its 50 residents can begin to move in.
Bogert and Assistant Director Stacey Enmeier are both bubbling with an anticipatory energy. The makeover of the facility, envisioned for several years, is a mere month away from being set in motion.
“Everyone’s just been waiting for that green fence to go up,” enthused Bogert, who explained the novelty of such an intended housing facility. “As medicine advances and people with disabilities are living longer, it’s only been now that housing has begun to catch up.” Bogert describes the housing development as “a way to give people some independence.” Adds Enmeier, “It’s a chance to thrive in a living opportunity.”
Furthermore, Enmeier says, “The community has been phenomenal in supporting us,” with Bogert adding, “Laguna really gets behind their nonprofits.”
With an eye to the horizon, Bogert explains that she sees Glennwood House as a kind of pilot program, one which she hopes will expand by opening other locations. “Not only that, but we can then share our knowledge with similar programs around the area.”
As for tomorrow’s event, the 50 walkers or rollers and expected future residents were each asked to set a goal of raising $1,000, though it is not the last fundraising endeavor on the docket. Coming in September will be a stand-up paddle relay race in Newport Dunes (held for a second year) as well as events like auctions and wine tastings that will be held on the Glennwood House site.