In a red metal building surrounded by colorful art, around 60 adults gather on any given day to create art, play games and spend time with their friends. Some of them live alone. Some have caregivers who work during business hours. All benefits from a safe space to spend time with people who are like you, people who are different from you, and, most importantly, people who care about you.
Since 1978, the Adult Services program within Signal Centers has provided a beautiful service to the Chattanooga community for adults with learning disabilities. Courtney Chandler, director of Adult Services, is one of six staff members within the program. She’s seen firsthand how strong the connection is within that community.
“If one day someone isn’t there, it won’t be long before we’re hearing, ‘where are they? Can we call them?’” Courtney said. “The beauty of what we offer is another option for people who might be inappropriately placed in another type of facility, like a nursing home, or otherwise neglected. In this program, we’re able to give caregivers some respite, help these adults build friendships and alleviate some of their vulnerability to abuse or lack of interaction.”
Adults at the center range in age from 20 to 90 years old. They all have varying abilities, personalities and interests. Many have been coming to Signal Centers for more than a decade. In fact, a few adults have been referred by other generations of relatives who’ve participated in the program. On any given day, they might create art for placement around Chattanooga, learn first aid, play adaptive sports, have a snack and learn about using simple tools. When asked about his favorite activity at the center, decade-long attendee John said, “What isn’t my favorite part?”
The Adult Services program within Signal Centers is well-connected to the children’s program and Assistive Technology program. Many adults from the center have received custom-made assistive equipment at little to no cost to them. Children from the Signal Centers programs visit the Adult Services group regularly to play games and interact together. Many organizations across Chattanooga partner with the Adult Services program to teach classes or play sports.
“We find that once people come in the door, they’re part of our family,” Courtney said. “Just like our adults, our volunteers keep coming back year after year.”
United Way of Greater Chattanooga is a proud supporter of Signal Centers. Learn more about them on their website.