With a truly novel, innovative idea for the time, Dr. William Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, traveled from Massachusetts and purchased a tract of land in Godfrey, Ill., so they could create a caring home and offer medical care, a healthy diet, physical exercise, education, socialization, recreation and meaningful work to people with developmental disabilities. This fundamentally radical concept in 1897 became known as Beverly Farm. “They were very forward-minded people,” says Anne Stotler, community relations director at Beverly Farm. “They wanted to create a community for people to grow, develop, mature and come into their own, without being hidden.”
Surrounded by farm fields, Beverly Farm is situated on 220 acres, 80 of which are developed. Stotler explains that residences offer three levels of care, including apartments for those with independent living skills, six group homes for those needing some assistance and dormitory-style cottages,which are for residents requiring supervised care. The campus also has its own Equestrian Center, which offers special exercises and activities designed to improve residents’ balance, posture and self-confidence, and an Activity Center, where residents enjoy a heated indoor pool that is wheelchair- accessible, a sensory room filled with visually stimulating appointments and a large gymnasium, where dances, bingo, karaoke and parties are held.
Stotler also points out that Beverly Farm has a Developmental Training Center, a place where residents receive an evaluation of physical, mental and emotional status in order to establish an appropriate plan for development. “We have a contract with a local organization that makes promotional key chains,” she explains. “Our residents go and work there every day, and that gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. They do a job, and they are compensated.” The Developmental Training Center also provides occupational and physical therapies to residents, as well as training for Beverly Farm’s Busy Bee Bakery, which produces some of the most decedent desserts and pastries in Godfrey, according to Stotler. “It offers a dessert of the month club, with selections including Red Velvet Cake, Texas Sheet Cake, Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake and the bakery’s specialty: Chocolate Deluxe Bars (involving peanut butter, marshmallows and the aforementioned chocolate).” She also notes that residents who have their food and sanitation license from the state work in the bakery, and they also create baked goods for Coffee Cabana at Beverly Farm, its on-site coffee shop that’s open to the public.
A brand new event that Beverly Farm will host Sept. 27 at Norwood Hills Country Club is the Grapes on the Green golf tournament and wine tasting. “When we saw Norwood Hills—it’s such a beautiful space—we thought it would be a great place for a wine tasting, as well,” Stotler says. “The event will start with registration and lunch at 11 a.m., and following the four-person scramble, the wine tasting will begin. There will be several wineries participating, an open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction.”
Stotler notes that monies raised will help fund its Equestrian Center and activities program, because none of it is state or federally funded. “Our residents also visit Pere Marquette State Park twice a year for camp, and in September, we have our Fall Family Weekend, when residents put on a huge variety show in our gymnasium. Our activity staff just does a tremendous job of providing great social activities for residents of all levels. That’s why our fundraising is key—because we see how important these social activities are to them.”
Beverly Farm’s mission is to provide a loving, caring home for adults with developmental disabilities and to provide each individual with physical and emotional security, giving them a dignified quality of life. “We’re like a little town within a town,” Stotler says. “I can look out my office window and see residents riding their bikes, talking to each other and going into the Activity Center. There’s so much for them to do. We just need to make sure it all continues.”