Helping people find independence

Jim Owens, the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded’s foundational board member, first became involved with the nonprofit because his brother, Peter, had Down’s syndrome.

When his mother could no longer care for Peter, Jim Owens decided to move his brother into the Hamilton House, one of the association’s residential facilities. Unlike other facilities for the mentally disabled, it focused on providing mentally disabled residents with independence through residential living, vocational training and job placement.

Peter Owens quickly flourished in the program, acquiring part-time work and a girlfriend.

“It was like having a life now,” Jim Owens said of his brother. “He was sitting at home with my mother, watching television all day long and doing whatever she needed to have done. He went from that to having a girlfriend and a bus pass, and going to the mall and dances.”

Having seen how much Glendale Assn. for the Retarded benefited his brother, Jim Owens became a member of the governing board and currently serves as president of the association’s foundational board.

“You get down there [to the workshops], you see these people, and the love that comes back from them is so much more than you can give,” Jim Owens said. “If you’re having a bad day, one of the best things to do is just to go down there and hang around for half an hour.”

Sharon Roth, the nonprofit’s foundation director, said Jim Owens’ love of the organization has greatly benefited the association.

“He’s a quiet soldier,” Roth said. “He does things in the background, and he doesn’t want recognition. He wants it solely for the organization. He’s not this demonstrative person, yet he’s lived his whole life with a brother who was disabled.”

Jim Owens’ brother recently died, but Owens continues to dedicate much of his free time to the organization. He is also an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Glendale.

Two of Owens’ clients recently donated large gifts to the association because of Owens’ recommendation.

“To get these gifts has really made a positive impact on the organization because we can continue to provide the same quality of services,” Executive Director Sandy Doughty said. “We haven’t had to cut back on anything. These two gifts are above and beyond what we ever expected.”


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