STOW- There was a time when portions of Stow were considered ideal vacation destinations for city-weary residents.  It seems those days are not gone forever in the eyes of some newcomers to Birch Hill Road.  Minute Man Arc, the non-profit agency serving people with disabilities, recently acquired a four-bedroom home on that road, complete with plenty of room and a spectacular view of the town’s orchards for its four residents.

“One resident really loves the view – he calls it his vacation home, “said Denene Hurteau, the Arc’s assistant residential director. “We have been working for almost five years to find a new house for our residents, and this one is perfect, a much better fit.  With the modern updates and more space it’s a great environment – peaceful and calm.”

Hurteau reported that the men in their new hilltop home range in age from their mid- 30s to mid-50s.  Neighbors may not know they are even there yet, given three go off to work during the weekdays and the fourth to a day program, she said.  But, they have been there since mid-June, and are evidently thriving.

“It’s such a change from the home they were in,“ Hurteau noted.  Their former home also was in Stow, and also quietly occupied, for about a decade, Hurteau said. She explained that, while the other house was comfortable for many years, it was getting run down, making it sensible to move on.  Along with the view, the house on Birch Hill came with few repairs and only minor adjustments needed for a group home meeting state codes, she said.

A Sensible Home with a View

While the residents may find the house extraordinary, Hurteau commented that, as with most suburban adults, life is rather ordinary.  Though the house has an Arc staffer there around the clock, Hurteau said the residents do many of the housekeeping chores and “really, really enjoy” helping cook every meal, with food shopping on Tuesdays one of their favorite tasks. (This could be because the open kitchen is the room with the best view, she observed.) Add in activities that make up the weekends, such as bowling and walking, and Hurteau laughed, “They’re more active than me.”

It is worth mentioning that the home may come with some very good karma. The previous owner was Leslie Zelamsky, who trained service dogs there. (The Independent wrote about Zelamsky in the Jan. 14, 2015 issue.) Hurteau said she was told that Zelamsky “called it ‘good karma’ that she was selling to Minute Man Arc.” So far, nothing appears to disprove that theory.

Residents continue to spend their free time outdoors and on the deck after work, enjoying the home’s sizable year, to the point where the Arc is considering moving on of its regular barbecues to its new Birch Hill location.  She added, “We’ve invited the neighbors to come know the door anytime to meet the guys.”

Mission: Minute Man Arc is committed to improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities by increasing independence, personal choice and self-advocacy

Article by Ann Needle, Stow Independent  3 August 2016