Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

June 11, 2010

Rock of the community

Rock House builds fulfilling lives for those with developmental disabilities

Since 1979, when Brad and Nancy Allen founded the first facility in Stephenville, the Company of Rock House has helped people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The private company, whose name was inspired by a passage from the book of Matthew, has grown to 350 full- and part-time staff with seven facilities statewide that has built a reputation centered around a philosophy of training and supporting people to become the best they can be.

The Cleburne facility has been in operation for around five years and provides a wide variety of services, according to Pat Frosch, Cleburne program manager.

“Some of our clients are high level and they can do most everything themselves with some supervision, and others are at another level and need help, so we provide all of that to our clients,” she said.

In the Home and Community-Based Services program funded by the state, clients, mostly of adult age who have aged out of school, receive adaptive aids that allow them to reside in the community and receive home modifications to make the home user-friendly and safe.

Clients also participate in day services, called “day-hab,” which include leisure activities, life-skills training, job coaching and vocational development.

“We try to provide the most normal life that people can have within their situation,” Frosch said. “We try to help them be as normal as they can be, live normal lives and help them take care of themselves.”

Clients are eligible to receive therapeutic and counseling services, including audiology, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, dietary or social services.

Most importantly, clients live in homes in mainstream neighborhoods and learn to function in real-life situations, including preparing meals, washing clothes, housekeeping, shopping, health care, social interaction and financial management.

“They mow the lawn and take out the trash just like you and I do,” Frosch said.

There are five such homes in Cleburne with around four people in each, with foster families also providing care to residents, most of whom are originally from Johnson County.

The homes are supervised by house managers and other staff, but clients learn to do chores, bathe and take medication, eventually to the point that they can take care of themselves.

The Cleburne facility also serves as an intermediate care facility for people with mental retardation and related conditions.

During day-hab, clients are able to earn money by rolling newspapers and selling plants, taken care of by the clients themselves, as well as receive training, such as exercising, counting money and learning other daily living tasks.

“A lot of it is teaching them how to socialize and how to get along,” Frosch said.

On this day, clients were rolling and preparing copies of the Johnson County News, a weekly published by the Times-Review, for distribution.

As the state releases more people from its state schools with the purpose of mainstreaming them into communities, facilities such as the Rock House are in demand.

According to Frosch, there is currently a 10-year waiting list.

“A lot of parents have cared for their disabled children their entire lives, but as they age they try to make decisions on who might provide care once they are gone,” she said.

The staff at Rock House emphasizes personal satisfaction, independence and responsibility.

Frosch said that their clients are eager to learn and have a great outlook on life.

“It’s a joy for me to come to work every day and see the excitement on their faces about what they are doing,” she said. “They lead a simple life, and they enjoy it for the most part. They are usually happy and have a few stresses, but nothing like what we have in our daily lives.”

In addition to Cleburne, the Company of Rock House maintains facilities in Stephenville, Eastland, Georgetown, Midland, Odessa and Lubbock.

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