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Donegal Township couple aid disabled adults

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 9:10 p.m.
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Residents and caregivers at Faith House in Jeannette, operated by Acme Providers Inc., play a game of cards. Pictured (from left) are Jamie Cook of Jeannette, a direct care staff member at the facility; resident Michael Rumpf; resident Megan McClintock; Patrice Krug of Greensburg, a direct care staff member at the facility; and resident Sarah Vinck. Linda Harkcom | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal

For 17 years, Henry and Kathie Hoffer of Donegal Township raised their beloved foster son, Michael Rumpf.

When they realized it would soon be time for Rumpf — who has intellectual developmental disabilities — to transition to a facility staffed with professionals more capable of meeting his daily needs, the couple began its search for such a place.

“We looked at all of the available options but did not see anything to suit his needs,” Kathie Hoffer said. “So we created one.”

The couple spent more than eight years developing the idea for a group home that would aid the daily lifestyle of not only Rumpf, but also others with similar special needs.

“It's so hard to start a facility like this. It's usually done by a corporation, not individuals,” Hoffer said.

That's because of the finances and time required to acquire certification by the state Office of Developmental Programs, she said.

“With all of the criteria you have to meet, you just don't see people do this,” Hoffer said. “We have no funding stream, no endowments, it's just Henry and I.”

So the Hoffers founded the nonprofit organization known as Acme Providers Inc.

“We chose the name Acme because it is our mailing address, as well as the fact that it means pinnacle and our service is the top of the line,” she said.

They also looked for the perfect home to suit the needs of their clients.

After two years of looking and praying, Hoffer said she had just about given up.

“I looked and looked and, one day, I said ‘Dear Lord, if you want us to do this you are going to have to send us a house.',” she said. “Not long after we found this house. It's just been a Godsend and, because it came to us by faith, we named it Faith House.”

The approximately 2,000 square-foot house, located on a quiet street in Jeannette, has been equipped to meet state and federal requirements.

It is only five minutes from Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children, where its residents attend a day program.

The couple saw their dream realized when they opened Faith House in 2010.

Rumpf, 32, was the first resident.

The young man who loves Nascar, the Pittsburgh Steelers and video games said he liked living with his foster parents but he also likes living in his new home with his friends.

The facility is at maximum capacity with a total of four residents, including Rumpf, another male and two female adults.

While they live at the facility, the residents can go home for visits with their family.

When a bed will be open for a day or more, the facility offers respite service to families still caring for their adult child at home.

The adult residents lead very active lives, said Patrice Krug, the facility's direct care staff official.

They go to church, dances, birthday parties, the park, roller skating and bowling and they also make arts and crafts, Krug said.

Hoffer said that, although they no longer live at home, all of the residents have strong support from their families and guardians.

“Family involvement is critical. We work hand-in-hand with the families to make the transition to living here. Without them, this house could not work as well as it does,” Hoffer said.

One of those parents is Lisa Liston of Greensburg.

Liston's daughter Sarah Vinck, 25, is a resident at Faith House.

“It has certainly given us peace of mind. Sarah will need someone to care for her for her whole life, and we certainly won't be around her whole life, so it has given us peace to know Faith House is there,” Liston said.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.