People & Places

Discovery Living marks 35th year

Cedar Rapids-based non-profit organization now serving 140 people

Most clients choose to attend Camp Courageous for a week annually, said Bob Hebl, executive director of Discovery Living. Above, clients participate in a cross-country activity in 2014 at the camp. (Photo submitted by Bob Hebl)
Most clients choose to attend Camp Courageous for a week annually, said Bob Hebl, executive director of Discovery Living. Above, clients participate in a cross-country activity in 2014 at the camp. (Photo submitted by Bob Hebl)

Cedar Rapids-based Discovery Living is marking its 35th year of serving adults with intellectual disabilities in Linn County.

The non-profit organization first was incorporated as Discovery Village in 1977. Back then, it served 115 people.

It became known as Discovery Living after opening its first eight-bed group home in 1981. Now, a typical home has three to five residents, according to Bob Hebl, the organization’s executive director.

“The needs can range anywhere from domestic to hygiene,” Hebl said. “A big focus of what we work on is community integration, financial management, socialization. The neat part about our homes is they’re small and the services are individually catered to the person’s needs.

“We believe that people, regardless of their level or type of disability, have the right to be an active part of their community.”

Hebl said the organization prides itself on providing services to those who may have received care at a larger institution, where they may have been away from family and community.

“As we’ve been able to bring people back home, they really become part of the community,” he said.

Hebl said Discovery Living has seen steady growth since it first began serving clients. Last year, it served 170 people. Currently, it serves 140 people at 40 locations throughout Linn County. More than 30 people are on a waiting list to receive services.

Kim Larimer is a registered nurse and health services coordinator at Discovery Living. Her sister, Shelly Strait, who has autism, has lived in a Discovery Living home for more than 20 years.

“She did live at home until we had to have her placed here,” Larimer said. “When she was placed here at Discovery Living, since then, she has become the most amazing woman. She actually feeds herself, she is very independent ... she’s a productive member of society.

“She’s actually saying words, which she hasn’t done for the most part of her life. She does a lot of things.”

Larimer also said her sister has benefited from the dedication of long-term staff members.

Hebl said maintaining a manageable level of growth is a priority, as well as hiring and retaining a quality workforce.

“A lot of people probably don’t understand, our homes are not considered group homes, they’re just residential based services,” he said. “I think a lot of people have the conventional idea that services and supports are all delivered right in the home.

“Our goal for people is ... to promote independence.”

To learn more

For more information on Discovery Living and its services, go to discoveryliving.org or call (319) 378-7470

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