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Friendly FACES in Western Branch

Catherine Grandstaff and Amy Barnhill are friends and roommates with FACES Community Services, an adult day support and residential services program for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities.

They first met at the Zuni campus of HumanKind, formerly known as Zuni Presbyterian Homes and Family Services, which housed 38 adults with intellectual disabilities on a rural, 315-acre campus.

Medicaid regulation changes led to the facility closing on March 31. Barnhill moved into FACES while Grandstaff’s family looked for new accommodations, but Grandstaff made it clear that she wanted to follow her friend into the same group home.

“I like it here,” Grandstaff said recently. “I like Amy.”

Adrianne and Albert Sears, the co-founders of FACES, were at capacity when Catherine’s family made their request. Adrianne Sears said the organization found a new home for the pair while Catherine was approved for a Medicaid waiver.

“They needed to be together,” she said.

Grandstaff’s sister, Nancy Barham, said she’s happy with her new accommodations, plus the commute to visit her is much easier.

“It’s much easier for us to drive over to Chesapeake Square and get her than having to drive out to Zuni and get her,” Barham said.

The Searses opened their services to the community in 2009, starting as a small day support facility that looked after eight to 10 individuals. It has since grown to support more than 60 such individuals.

Many of these individuals enjoy day support activities that promote skill building and social interaction. They are taken to malls, they go bowling, and they even enjoyed a Carnival cruise this year.

They’re also encouraged to participate in community-service activities, volunteering at food banks and ministries.

“It’s very rewarding for them,” Sears said. “It makes them feel needed.”

The organization’s acronym stands for freedom, authority, choice, empowerment and support. The staff is trained not only to take care of these individuals but also to treat them with respect and foster their independence in Western Branch residential homes.

“I like to be treated like an adult and respected,” Barnhill said.

Barham is happy her sister is being looked after by staff with the qualifications and patience to provide excellent care.

“It takes a special patience to work with special-needs people day in and day out,” Barham said. “The patience this staff has in caring for special needs people is amazing.”

Both Searses are retired naval officers with a drive for community service that inspired them to provide care for those in need.

“We had a passion for serving our country, so it made sense for us after retirement to serve our community,” Sears said. “We wanted to do something that would impact the community.”