The Birth of Our Stomping Ground

On a snowy November evening in 2018, Paula and Joe Manion attended a seminar on housing options for adults with developmental disabilities. They were hoping to find a better living solution for their 29-year old son Michael, who, despite having a full-time job, was unable to earn enough money to live independently in Fairfax County.  Michael's dependency on his parents for housing, coupled with his inability to drive, meant he had very few social connections or activities. Where the Manions had arrived looking for options, they ended up leaving completely inspired...

Paula and Mike ManionFounder, Paula Manion with son Michael, graduating from George Mason University, Class of 2015

MAKING THE DREAM A REALITY

OSG Founders Joe and Paula Manion with Main Street Founders, Jillian and Scott Copeland, JCC kickoff, March 2019

The “Aha” Moment

During this seminar there was a presentation about Main Street in Rockville, MD. Paula and Joe felt strongly that a similar concept could take hold in Northern Virginia. In order to do this they would need to gather the necessary resources and support to develop a nonprofit that would redefine the possibilities for developmentally disabled adults, ensuring that they would have the opportunity to live independent lives in integrated, supportive communities.

By the end of February 2019, under the mentorship of Jillian and Scott Copeland, the founders of Main Street, the Manions met with a number of individuals and presented their concept to build a northern Virginia version of “Main Street”.  On March 14th, they incorporated into the nonprofit “City Center NOVA” and stood up a Board of Directors. On St Patrick’s Day they presented at the Fairfax Jewish Community Center hoping to attract around 50 attendees. Over 200 attended–families like the Manions, eager to learn how they could improve the quality of life for their loved ones.

OUR TURBO-CHARGED JOURNEY

Since March 2019

The initial concept to build one centralized community evolved into creating several communities in multiple neighborhoods through partnerships with Affordable Housing Developers. This approach has allowed us to establish a ‘footprint’ in buildings that are clean, modern, safe, and close to mass transit, recreational and employment options.  

In November 2020, City Center NOVA changed its name to “Our Stomping Ground,” (OSG) to better illustrate who we are and recognize our growth from one location to multiple communities. Although our name has changed, our mission to establish affordable, inclusive communities for developmentally disabled adults remains the same. 

Together with our Affordable Housing Developers, several public and private partnerships and family and friends, we have created a thriving community for our adults and the entire Gilliam Place Apartment Community in Arlington. This is a true model of hope for what is possible when we unite in a common goal.

Gilliam Place residents celebrating our one year anniversary, November 2020

PLANNING FOR TOMORROW, TODAY

The Future of OSG

We’re on track to foster four more OSG Communities by the close of 2023.  When COVID recedes, we’ll expand our programs with more member events, and in the coming months, our website will incorporate a ‘Housing Wizard’ to facilitate the complicated landscape families face in piecing together available resources to make independent living possible.  One day we hope OSG will have its own location much like Main Street, where we’ll have ample indoor and outdoor community spaces for programming initiatives, and enriching social experiences.

Anything is Possible

In less than two years, we created a small but mighty nonprofit whose supporters and partners have allowed us to thrive despite the many setbacks brought on by COVID. Perhaps even better than realizing our dream, Michael and so many others have realized theirs. Today Michael is a live-in companion to Ben, and an integral part of the Gilliam Place Stomping Ground Community.  Our hope for everyone who desires to live independently, is that they, like Michael, will have the chance for a happy, and more meaningful life.

Together, let’s make community and ‘stomp’ out loneliness forever.

Mike and roommate Ben, navigating independent living skills with a home cooked meal!Mike and roommate Ben, navigating independent living skills with a home cooked meal!