Creating opportunity

LAKE CITY – Since its inception in 1989, Opportunity Living has worked to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

At present, 68 clients live in group homes in Lake City and Rockwell City. Using specialized technology – most of it designed and built by staffers – Opportunity Living residents participate in a wide variety of recreational activities, said executive director Dave Staver.

According to Staver, staff members have developed adapted equipment for bowling, ping pong, darts, pool and other activities. Since 1990, the organization has operated an activity center in Lake City that is also open to the community.

The newest addition to the roster is a refurbished miniature golf course.

Adjacent to an Opportunity Living group home at 888 South Street in Rockwell City, “Just Puttin’ Around” was designed and built by staff, Stavers said.

The course was rebuilt with plastic materials, which are more expensive, but will not deteriorate nearly as fast as painted wood, according to Staver.

The entire facility is accessible by wheelchairs – including the large, motorized variety, he said.

The course, originally built in 1998, had in recent years fallen into disrepair, according to Stavers.

“It reached the point where we decided we either needed to rebuild it or abandon it,” he said.

Proceeds from a fundraising golf tournament held annually by Opportunity Living got the ball rolling, so to speak. A matching funds grant from the Calhoun County Community Foundation covered the balance of the costs.

The course includes nine holes, laid out in a linear fashion. Barriers have spring-loaded gates between holes to allow passage of wheelchairs.

“Everything is extra-durable, so if it gets run over, it doesn’t break,” Stavers said.

Though many of the obstacles are the same as what may be found on any putt-putt range, everything on the course was purpose-built, according to Staver.

“Our staff designed and built the whole thing,” he said.

Staver said that, to the knowledge of Opportunity Living staff, there are no comparable golf courses in the region.

As such, Staver said plans are under discussion to host events at the course that would bring together residents of other facilities.

The course is located adjacent to a former city park that was recently transferred to Opportunity Living.

The transfer includes a restroom facility, which will be remodeled to allow a wider variety of events to be held, he said.

Though the course is designed with Opportunity Living residents in mind, it is open to anyone in the community who wishes to play.

This is in accordance with Opportunity Living’s broader goal of promoting community integration. According to their mission, Opportunity Living is committed to providing quality services in the least restrictive environment, which promotes growth and personal achievement.

“We want our clients to be part of the community,” Staver said.