Sharing Meadows serves disabled without gov't funds

Sharing meadows is a community where 24 adults with developmental disabilities are known as villagers. It's a place where everyone is busy and happy.

Located on 185 acres in Northwest Indiana, villagers are busy working in the kitchen preparing food to be sold in their shop.

"We have raspberries on the premises, we have blueberries, black walnuts trees and we have some very good neighbors who sell us, at very low cost, apples or else we even get them donated at time. So we process the black walnuts for sale and we make raspberry applesauce and pies, " said Dona Nicksic, vocational director. "We have about a dozen jobs we do here and basically what I do is assess the villager' skills and I place them in jobs according to their talents and abilities."

In addition to selling food, they produce arts and crafts which are also available in their shop.

"We throw nothing out," Nicksic said. "Everything is recycled. We have looms that people donated so there we learned how to weave. We have kilns and glazes and paints so we learned how to do ceramics We take advantage of everything we have here on the property and so were really a little community that is self sustaining pretty much."

It is unusual for an organization to not receive government funding.

"We have to cough up the money ourselves but we don't have to have all the paperwork and all those things," said Father Dennis Blaney, Sharing Meadows president.

"There are four villages on site here and they do get a small allowance per week and our stewards our supervisors are paid they have a salary, a small salary that they received," Nicksic said. "I am a paid worker here."

They also offer summer camp program. The camp setting sleeps 50 people here on weekend or during the summer a whole week. .

They depend a lot on donations to support the organization as well as proceeds from the items they sell.

"The villagers love living here and it's so different than any other place they could be because they feel very productive, they do a lot of things to make this place beautiful and they have a loving and wonderful relationship with each other and also with the staff that works here," Nicksic said.

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