DRE’S HAVEN Makes Individual Choice a Reality...
Dre’s Haven is committed to building a strong, safe, and supportive community that meets the needs, creates opportunities, inspires inclusion and advocates for the fair respectful treatment of adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
Launched in 2010, Dre’s Haven committed to helping the individuals we serve flourish and live fulfilling lives in the community—the life they want and deserve. Dre’s Haven’s founder, Tonja Jones-Blount’s pioneering spirit is at the core of the work we do.
Residents enjoy the comforts of home in a unique environment specially designed with attention to sensitivity to light and sound. Multiuse spaces on each floor promote community—involvement, interests, diversity, friendships.
- Independent Living Skills
Independent Living Skills are any skills that can help an individual with a disability do what they want to do on their own. Things like budgeting, public transportation training, Assistive technology training and social skills can all be part of independent living skills.
- Information and Referral (I&R)
Information and Referral means hearing a person’s story and understanding what their needs are. It means being a good listener, asking questions and giving helpful information or referrals to other agencies or people who can help.
Advocacy has two sides: Individual and systems. Individual advocacy means an ILC staff member may accompany a client to medical appointments, housing interviews, Social Security visits or meetings with Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. Systems change means the ILC may do things like advocate to a transit agency for better routes or buses. ILCs may also help by advocating for curb cuts, street crossings, buildings or anything else that will help clients have equal access to society.
- Peer Counseling
Peer Counseling is based on the idea that people with disabilities know best how to take care of themselves. Dre’s Haven Peer counselors serve as mentors to other residents who are facing challenges in living independently.
- Transition and Diversion
The Dre’s Haven Transition and Diversion program assists individuals who are transitioning from an institution or other separated setting by providing the services and supports they need to live independently, eliminating the need to live in a group home or institution.
- Social Enterprises
Dre’s Haven has developed several social enterprise concepts, designed to give residents an opportunity to develop their career skills, and pay for their own independent living needs through internships and meaningful employment. Our focus is on abilities as we prepare our clients for the instrumental roles they play in the community. These enterprises give participants active roles in business and community:
- Dre’s Café
- Boss B Tees
- Dre’s To Grow
- Envision at Dre’s Haven
Dre’s To Grow Hydroponic Garden helps residents and students develop social, practical, and vocational skills, reconnect with school, and build community. Vegetables will be used in meals on-site and in abundance, Dre’s Haven will provide funding opportunities for participants to launch a farm stand and develop a cookbook to further engage with the community!
Participants with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges benefit from hands-on learning opportunities, particularly empowering activities with practical applications. This therapeutic garden will give students a hands-on and emotionally regulating experience of working in a garden. They’ll develop social, life, and job skills through the farm stand and the cookbook.
Additionally, our local community has not always been connected to the campus and there can be misunderstandings about who our students are and what we do. The garden will provide an opportunity to better serve our students, and also to improve communication, dispel stigma, eliminate barriers, and grow trust, respect, and support.
Dre and his best friend vance
The dre’s playhouse innaugural class
AUNDRE “DRE” JONES, DRE’S HAVEN INSPIRATION & NAME-SAKE
Dre’s Haven is the name-sake of Aundre “Dre” Jones. Dre is the eldest son of Tonja (Taj) and Aundre (Dre Sr.) and was diagnosed with autism in 1991 at 18 months old. Originally called Dre’s Playhouse, Taj was inspired by Dre to create a place where kids with autism and other developmental disabilities and their siblings, could just be kids”. Dre’s Playhouse was launched on Dre’s 10th birthday and has grown to include a private K-12 program, residential, post-secondary education and adult day program serving more than 300 clients and their families. Dre now 32-years old, resides with his family in a private suite and is active in the family business. Dre enjoys going to the movies and dining out at his favorite restaurants (Longhorn Steak House, Texas Roadhouse, Golden Corral, CiCi’s Pizza, and NY Pizza). Dre’s maintains a bond with his best friend of 22 years, Vance. He also shares close bonds with his parents and Step-dad EL, Grandmothers (Mary and Jurleen), brothers (Tre & LJ), cousins (Da’Zhon, Joshua, Jordy, Danecia, Kenyatta, Josh, and Richard), Aunts (Marilyn and Vonda), Uncles (Henry, Robert, Curtis and Travick)
A Mission Born Out of Love and Determination
Dre’s Haven, Inc. was established in 2010 with the vision of creating a neighborhood community where adults with functional disabilities could find accessible housing, staff support for daily living activities, programs to increase independent livings skills, social and recreational opportunities, and transportation assistance. This vision was inspired Dre’s graduation.
When a student with disabilities reach the age of 21, they essentially “age out” of school and lose the federally mandated Experts refer to this period as the graduate “falling off the services cliff”. This is because graduation marks the loss of the federally mandated funding for the services and supports that had guided the student’s day-to-day activities, education, and therapy to this point.
Leaving high school was a more monumental step for an adult with disabilities and their families. With the assistance of his parents, Dre had opted to extend his high school enrollment and graduate with his brother at 20 years old. The upcoming graduation soon brought Tonja and Dre Sr. to the reality that it only delayed the roller coaster of emotions and questions that haunt most parents of disabled adult children; “what will happen to my son or daughter if something happens to me?”
The Joneses had spent nearly two years planning for their sons’ graduation day but just one week prior, Tonja was notified that Dre’s seating arrangement would be guided by the school’s policy; All disabled graduates would be seated together in a designated area near the stage. They would also exit the auditorium immediately after the final graduate received their diploma. This was not the plan and although the policy didn’t include the word “mandatory”, Tonja immediately reached out to the administration as she had done so many times throughout Dre’s school years. And most recently, to advocate for Dre’s right to not only attend his senior prom, but to take a date and not a caregiver. But days later when Tonja finally got a return phone call, she was read the same script:(1) it would be easier to get Dre to the restroom from the designated area, if necessary, (2)in the past, several students have had meltdowns and disrupted the program, and (3)there was no possible way that Dre could sit through such a lengthy program without becoming overwhelmed.
Tonja knew that this was the district’s tactic to not have to address the inequities in the school’s policy as it pertains to students with disabilities. Tonja was determined for Dre and Tre to graduate as they had lived their childhood…together. So she fought her shortest and final battle with the district.
On June 3, 2010, Dre sat quietly amongst his non-disabled peers, during the nearly four-hour graduation ceremony. Dre sat in his natural order, directly in front of his brother Tre, who kept him calm; allowed him to fall asleep on his shoulders for about 20 minutes at some point; and who stood on the steps of the stage and patiently showed Dre which hand to extend to receive his diploma. Just as Tonja and Dre Sr. had planned, they graduated on the same day; from the same high school; receiving their diplomas in their natural order, right next to each other. What a memorable day for Dre and his family!
Dre’s Playhouse graduated that day too and was Dre’s Haven was born. Dre’s Haven is commitment to spearheading new, effective solutions for our community, and providing the highest quality programs, services, and integrated support networks that strengthen our ability to successfully address the unique issues of young adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.