Less than two years ago, our chair and founder Paula Manion, full-time Nurse Practitioner, wife and mom to three children, realized a lifelong dream. Along with her husband Joe, they wanted to help their oldest son Mike (aged 32), and thousands of other young men and women with developmental disabilities, thrive in a neurotypical world. They and a small group of impassioned parents created City Center NOVA (CCN), whose mission is to build inclusive communities and strengthen neighborhoods through diverse programming, sustainable, affordable housing and social spaces for people of all abilities.
Since then, Paula and her volunteer board have partnered with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to open their first community at Gilliam Place, with whom we just celebrated our one year anniversary. In fact, just before COVID hit, Mike moved into his first apartment at Gilliam Place with his non-verbal roommate Ben. The pair have set about perfecting the art of cooking for two and living a life outside their family home, common milestones that most people take for granted. Despite facing numerous uphill battles from a young age, the pair now have a place they can call their own.
Why this is so important.
When CCN was first conceived, our goal, although ambitious, was to work out of one building somewhere in NOVA. Given the success of our first community at Gilliam Place, our growing membership, increased momentum around the mission, and the realization that NOVA alone was just the starting point not the end goal, the team was forced to rethink our name in order to broaden our horizon. Further, thanks to partnerships with APAH, the Wesley Development Housing Corporation, and SCG Development, four more communities will open by the close of 2022/early 2023.
We are therefore delighted to share CCN’s new name, Our Stomping Ground – Inclusive Communities
The refreshed brand name is designed with purpose, ensuring that every member feels a sense of ownership, community and belonging — a home they can embrace as their own and feel proud of. It also signifies the bold mark the organization and its members will leave on the world and their communities, with a not-so-subtle nod to the common phrase. Further, Our Stomping Ground embodies the freeing spaces where members can stomp out a path they’ve not previously been allowed to tread, while planting roots and making some noise!
Whether our members remain in an OSG community or choose to move elsewhere in the future, OSG is their springboard to live safe, fulfilled lives.
Finally, our tagline, Inclusive Communities, is a rallying cry and commitment. Our Stomping Ground welcomes all, strives to create supportive environments that encourage independence and mainstream acceptance, and remains focused on providing year-round essential programming that teaches life skills and nurtures growth.