In Memory of Darlene Nanette Guest

Darlene Nanette Guest
July 27, 1966 - July 09, 2015

I just wanted to add a little history, so all that have become close with Darlene and Norm and Barbara understand how courageous and pioneering they were.

In 1992, before supported living services were an option for people in the East Bay. Norm help to start an organization called HOUSE Inc. with several other parents of young people with developmental disabilities. At that time, there was only one group home in all of the Tri-Valley area and San Ramon. It was a group home for men and the quality of services was very poor. I think Dar had lived in a group home previously in Stockton and had a very rough time. Norm and Barb had taken her out of that home and brought her to live back home with them. The Guests and the other families involved with HOUSE Inc had heard about supported living because there were two agencies in the East Bay (Serra Center and Las Trampas) that were piloting supported living by transitioning people they served from group homes and dormitories to apartments. HOUSE Inc decided they were going to focus on developing affordable housing opportunities and the people with disabilities would then receive supported living. The problem was that Regional Center of the East Bay, had not decided that they were going to fund supported living for anyone outside of the two pilot agencies.

Soon after forming HOUSE Inc, the organization was successful in getting enough funding from the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore to buy two two bedroom duplexes. With a mortgage to pay, HOUSE Inc needed to convince RCEB to expand SLS. I remember Norm and Lloyd Hansen getting up at a RCEB board meeting and making impassioned speeches to encourage RCEB to fund SLS. They were successful and soon my old agency the Arc Alameda County was completing the paperwork to become a supported living agency.

The next challenge for Dar was that RCEB had never funded SL services for a person who needed 24 hour support, and they were trying hard not fund Dar's support. One hurdle RCEB put out for Dar is that she needed to get the maximum number of IHSS hours before RCEB would fund the difference up to 24 hours. Coincidentally, my agency was hosting an informational evening for families about IHSS. The Alameda County Director of IHSS at the time Tom McCormick came to speak to the families. He met Dar and Norm and Barb at the event and we told him of her opportunity to live on her own and he ended up saying he would authorize the hours.

Finally RCEB agreed to supply the rest of the funding for Dar's supported living services. She moved in to the HOUSE Inc duplex in Livermore with a young couple that provided most of her support. That must have been Spring or Summer of 1993. Word got out quickly about Dar's new living situation and another future SL client Laura Long and her father asked to visit Dar to see how her supported living worked. Laura had a similar disability and support needs as Dar, and was living at the time in a group home in Antioch, miserable. Laura was very excited about Dar's living arrangement so when EBI started the next year Laura became one of our first clients. Laura did not have any trouble getting 24 hour support funding approved by RCEB.

Today 300-400 people with developmental disabilities receive supported living services from Regional Center of the East Bay. Many of whom are folks who need 24 hour support. Dar and her family were incredible pioneers!

Best,
Tom

Posted in Community News.