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Newberg company serves Washington County and wants to expand services locally

For the disabled, loneliness and social isolation is a common experience and barriers are plentiful to access transport, financial support and social care.

The attitude of the general public compounds the issues facing the disabled. Research from the national disability charity Sense shows that a quarter of those polled had avoided conversations with disabled people.

A new company in Newberg, Assisted Community Ties, attempts to break the loneliness barrier by providing social support services to people with special needs. The company's employees call providers, pick up clients from their home and employ a one-to-one ratio for personal care. They meet with a group of other providers and clients in their 20s to 30s for socialization at a specified location, then collaborate on what to do next.

"If it's a nice day, they might decide to go to the zoo or go walking at the Tualatin Nature Park or go and play disk golf," Peter Vanzercouving, Assisted Community Ties owner, said. "If it is raining outside they like to bowl. We do a lot of bowling or go and play some arcades, or go to a movie, shopping and things like that."

The groups embark on adventures Monday through Friday. Each provider has from three to 10 customers that they are responsible for and may go on excursions twice a day. Vanzercouving sets up the schedules for the providers and the clients in order to arrange meet ups.

"It depends on what they want to do. It is up to the client," he stated.

His clients run the gamut of abilities.

"We work with people with (Asperger syndrome), Down syndrome and autism …," he said. "The customers live on their own at apartments or live at home with their parents or grandparents and we pick them up from there. We provide the service so they can explore the community, their interests, develop social skills, communication skills and make friends."

Providing social activities started when Vanzercouving was working for the Hillsboro school district.

"A coworker of mine called me about this job that she was doing after school hours are over. She was telling me that she was going bowling. I said wow! This sounds like a field trip, I want to do that!"

From there, things fell into place and he found that he liked the work. He started as a contractor for the state, before the laws changed and contractors were no longer allowed to do the work.

"Now the state hires people to do this, but they are overbooked," he said. "Medicaid offers this to people and they call my company when someone asks for the service. There is a high need for this."

Once he learned the system he started Assisted Community Ties in 2014 in Hillsboro and has expanded to Beaverton, Forest Grove and now to Newberg.

He started by hiring two personal support workers and soon found that the demand was high but the workers few. In order to meet the demands, Vanzercouving started hiring more support workers.

He now has 23 employees helping him to offer services to those who cannot do these things on their own.

Contract Publishing

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