A new group home for individuals with disabilities recently opened in Riverview.

Mark Oliver, CEO of the Specially Fit Foundation, has been working during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to advocate for the most vulnerable. His foundation serves hundreds of individuals with developmental disabilities, and its mission is to inspire lifelong learning, provide socialization opportunities and amplify knowledge of health and fitness for individuals with developmental disabilities through faith, fitness and family.

The Specially Fit Foundation recently took its outreach to another level by opening a beautiful group home in Riverview where individuals will live and thrive; this home includes a lakeside view, a fitness room, computer lab and brand-new furniture in every single room.

This household is for individuals who are 18 or older and on the Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid Waiver operated by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD).

“When COVID-19 began, this community was heavily impacted and we wanted to provide an opportunity for them on a larger scale than our fitness program,” said Oliver. “We wanted to create an environment for them to flourish by being independent, social, having healthy food options, access to activities and experience living in a loving home.”

Oliver brought in a business partner, Essie Wilson, a former principal and business owner of K2 Escape, which is an adult day training program for individuals with developmental disabilities in Brandon. She had a desire to open a group home because of the need to provide high-quality care to individuals with disabilities.

“My drive and motivation came from having twins of my own with autism, working in the school setting with students with disabilities and working with adult clients who live in group homes,” said Wilson. “I felt the need to provide a warm, positive home environment so clients would have a peace of mind by knowing they are in good hands.”

“Since starting to work with this community, I have heard horror stories that broke my heart about some of the conditions this population was living under,” said Oliver. “Which is why we hired an amazing staff that is here all the time while our clients are present. This staff is trained and constantly being challenged to increase their knowledge in this field, keeping up to date with certifications, and undergo Level 2 background checks.”

There are currently three beds available in the house. You can set up a tour of the home by reaching out to the organization at speciallyfitfoundation@gmail.com.

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