Year One Progress Report - May 2019

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Preface

Over the course of the past year, the unbelievable support of our mission has been nothing short of astonishing.  Most of the year has been dedicated to research, creating awareness and planting the seeds of vision into the community.  Countless strategic  relationships have been born and continue to be nurtured.   The first step, we believe, in creating intentional communities, is to educate the greater community and get the message out that housing for individuals with Autism should not be a societal afterthought.   We will continue on our mission conveying the socioeconomic benefits as well as what is more.. That we as a community are compassionate.  That we care for our most vulnerable.  That we can solve any issue, if we all come together.   This next year, our specific goal is to make formal the relationships we have established to create key partnerships that will broaden our reach and help bring our vision to reality. 



Obtained our 501(c)3 designation

  • Monetary as well as in kind donations are now tax deductible!  Being a non profit also opens us up to a host of different foundations to align with along with state and federal resources.

Strengthening Community Awareness

  • Before The NeighborBridge came to be, work was underway to create awareness and acceptance in our community.  Thanks to community partnerships we were able to have our first annual Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness event in The Woodlands, right in Market Street.  A crowd of nearly 400 gathered to show their support, feel true community and also learn about a variety of different services offered in the area.  This is the first of what will be an annual event benefitting The NeighborBridge.
  • We will also be hosting the Annual Special Needs Movie & Resource Fair night here in our area, which is now going on its 4th year.  This event started with only 20 people after being rained out 4 times to what now welcomes nearly 300 people.  We expect this number to continue to grow and gather up some of the best organizations in our area serving the special needs population.
  • We will be hosting the first annual "Backyard Throw Down of The Woodlands".  This will be a fundraising event in Town Green park that appeals to the masses.  Competitive tournaments will be held for a variety of backyard games including yard pong, horseshoes, cornhole and ladder golf!  Carnival games, food trucks, live music and more round out what will be a wonderful day out for the whole family!   

Strategic Affiliations

  • We are now members of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce.  This opens the door for exposure in the business community to not only create awareness but to harness the power of small business relationships. 
  • We are closely aligned with the Economic Development Partnership of The Woodlands.  The EDP is responsible for recruiting and retaining employers to our area and has proven to be an invaluable resource for connection within the community.  
  • We regularly attend the Commercial Real Estate Association of Montgomery county meetings and events.  This resource facilities relationships with local developers, builders, lenders along with a host of other resourceful connections.  Keeping in tune with the development of the area and being able to share the vision of The NeighborBridge within this organization has proven to be a critical component in discovery and growth.
  • We are now members of the Texas Association of Affordable Housing Providers (TAAHP).  TAAHP offers connection with affordable housing providers from across the state and from around the country.  They offer a wealth of information developed through first hand experience.   We will be attending our first annual three day conference this July.  Through TAAHP,  education on nearly every aspect of creating and managing affordable housing is only a call, click or coffee meeting away.  
  • We have organized a local Autism Mastermind Group with leaders in the community.  All members have a shared interest of improving the lives of individuals with Autism.  Meetings are held once a month and have proven to be a hub for quality feedback, personal and organizational growth as well as beneficial connections. 
  • We have compiled a comprehensive list of potential partners for everything from development to management of each community.  In addition to the "onsite" partnerships, relationships have also been developed and continue to be nurtured for community integration.  This would include but is not limited to volunteer organizations, private individuals, schools and churches.  

Resources

  • The Madison House Foundation which supports the Autism Housing Network, is a collaborative effort that showcases intentional communities around the country.  Resources are shared and available in an extremely accessible way.  This has proven to be a go to for seeing how the country is responding to the need for housing for individuals with Autism.  
  • The Coalition for Barrier Free Living supports independence of those with disabilities and provides a massive amount of information and resources.  They advocate for continued services and improving what is existing. 
  • The Conroe ISD Resource Center & Resource Fair which has a wealth of information and massive amounts of resources has been a go to throughout discovery.
  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) offers education as well as connection with a variety of funding sources such as tax credit programs, bond programs and grant avenues.  
  • Montgomery County Development Office provides connection to government backed resources for funding as well as community statistical information.  
  • F.E.A.T Houston (Families for Effective Autism Treatment) is  a dedicated resource that has been pivotal in creating opportunity for community connection, particularly that of families with similar interests.  
  • HHS (Health and Human Services) provides live time data on housing options in Texas as well as connection to waiver programs


Research

  • Through countless hours of research and utilizing a multitude of resources, statistics have been compiled into what is now found on our website.  The research entails specific demographic data to demonstrate how many individuals need residential support as well as the states historical response.   It demonstrates the staggering rise in need and the expectation of continuance.  
  • Research has also be done on a variety of current housing options throughout the state of Texas as well as throughout the country thanks to the Autism Housing Network.   Findings prove that housing for individuals most profoundly impacted by Autism are lacking.  Most communities have been created on the backs of a few select parents opposed to community leaders taking consideration in design of community to alleviate the socioeconomic burden "afterthought" development brings with it. 
  • Exploration of funding sources including those mentioned thusfar, also include investigation into private foundations as well as community parent partners.  The pro's and con's of each being taken into account and assessed for long term feasibility.
  • Research into the latest innovations in community design, affordability measures, demographics, person centered needs, community integration, funding sources, strategic alignments as well as with families personally impacted will continue to be a part of our operation to assure we are staying up to date on all fronts.