In 1984, Joe and June Richey had a vision how they could serve individuals with disabilities and their families.
Now 35 years later, Quest Connect has expanded beyond the little farm serving three individuals on Glass Pike to a center in Georgetown that serves central Kentucky. And this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the community is invited to join Quest’s residents, clients and their families for a 35-year celebration at Quest Connect at Buddy Williams Center at 100 Buddy Williams Place. There will be free food, live music, crafts individuals have made for sale, and people can find out what services are offered.
“Joe and June Richey had been teaching a Sunday school class for individuals with disabilities and realized those families needed extra support as their loved ones aged and became adults,” said Spencer Wahl, the executive director of Quest. “So they raised money and bought 26 acres on Glass Pike off Long Lick Pike. At the time, it was one house, a small barn and a tractor, and that’s how they started with three men.”
Over the next four years, word spread on what Quest was doing and two additional houses were built on the property, Wahl said.
“There is now three houses for men and women with different disabilities to call home,” he said. “There are 11 residents living there, including one of the men who was among the first three, and two who have been with us 20-plus years.”
Over the years, Quest Farm developed a reputation on its success stories of teaching these individuals farming and creating skills for individuals. They frequently participated in local parades and the community became aware of the farm’s Harvest Festival where they could get mums and the last of the vegetables.
Quest’s mission stayed the same, but the method has changed over the years. Wahl said the farm was largely unchanged until the late 2000s, when they realized more individuals in central Kentucky could benefit from what Quest was doing, but they didn’t need residential services.
“They needed job skills, educational skills, personal care and independent living skills that we were already providing,” Wahl said. “So we decided to branch out and meet that need.”
So Quest Connect at the Buddy Williams Center was formed.
“We needed a hub downtown where people could come and learn the skills they need,” Wahl said. “As the residents have aged, we don’t do as much farming because they haven’t been physically able to do the farm work, and as we’ve had a greater presence in town, there has been more accessibility to activities they enjoy.”
Some of their clients work at Toyota, O’Charley’s and other places, he said.
Today, Quest provides services to just over 85 clients across central Kentucky.
“That’s quite a change from three people 35 years ago,” Wahl said. “Our mission is the same to help individuals reach the highest level of independence, but the method has changed because society has changed. Fewer families need a residential solution because there is more support in the community, but they need assistance with other services like job skill training so they can go out and get competitive employment.
“This Saturday is like the annual Harvest Day Festival out at the farm and we invite the community and families in for a picnic. It is an opportunity for us to answer questions and people can find out the services we offer.”
Steve MCClain can be reached at email@example.com.