Penny Kuenle is organizing the Akua Puali gala event

Penny Kuenle is organizing the Akua Puali gala event

Event highlights need for support home

The Akua Puali gala fundraising event in Fruitvale on March 23 will raise awareness for the need to house special needs adults.

A gala event slated for Fruitvale next week could be the seed necessary to realize the creation of a supportive home for special needs adults in the Greater Trail region.

Called Akua Puali gala event, the March 23 fundraiser at the Fruitvale Memorial Centre (5:30 p.m.) will also be an awareness raiser of the need for a home to house those special needs adults who are not fitting in with the current state of the province’s health care system.

Event organizer and founder of the Akua Puali Homestead Society, Penny Kuenle, said the goal of the event is to begin the process of creating an assisted living home for people with special needs.

She said the province is shutting down several homes for special needs people. There have been 27 group homes closed in Vancouver in the last while, said Kuenle, and there have been three more closed in Trail, with another one in Fruitvale rumoured to be closing.

“So what happens to these individuals is they end up being placed into foster care in people’s homes,” she said.

If the people meet the Community Living criteria, they are funded and have access to help and programs. If not, said Kuenle, they end up walking the streets, not fitting in, and are placed in small apartments.

She said people like her 30-year-old son—who suffers from autism—need to have thorough supervision and programs to engage them.

The society plans to build a permanent home that will be staffed with trained people so they are not placed in homes with untrained people.

“With my son, if he is not on his meds, he can be quite dangerous,” said Kunele. “So just placing him in a home where someone rents a room to him, unless somebody has the background experience, it’s kind of risky.”

Kuenle said the society has found five acres in Fruitvale have been targeted, and the local municipal government is behind the idea.

“We want to create a home with an activity building to have a daily routine in their life,” she said.

The home could have eight to 10 beds and a commercial greenhouse on it. The greenhouse will provide an opportunity for the residents to work and the plants and vegetables could be sold back to the public.

The land will be around $300,000 to purchase, said Kuenle, but Habitat for Humanity has agreed to build the home once the society owns the land.

“The government is not going to do this,” said Kuenle. “We need to come together as a community to make this happen.”

Two guest speakers will highlight the gala event, with one speaking on autism from one who has it, and the other will be speaking on coping skills with depression.

The Rossland Light Opera singers will also perform. Kuenle will also speak on what the farm is and what the society hopes to create. There will also be a toonie auction, a silent auction and door prizes.

Cocktails will begin at 5:30 p.m. while the dinner takes place at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $50 and are on sale until March 15 at Got Juiced and Pharmasave in Trail, Ferraro Foods in Rossland, and Country Roads in Fruitvale.

For more information call 250-354-8360 or go online at www.akuapualihomestead.org.