Past Newsletters

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MARF, Inc. History

Mountain Area Residential Facilities, Inc. (MARF, Inc.)

A Brief History of our 35 years of Service


     In 1968, an Interagency Council on Developmental Disabilities formed a study committee to explore the possibility of opening a “halfway house” for adults with developmental disabilities in this area.  Groups represented on this committee included

The ARC of Buncombe Co., the State Mental Health Department, Vocational Rehabilitation, and representatives of the Special Education Department of the school system.  This was in response to a growing need for community placement, as guardians/families of people in institutions looked for alternative living situations. The group met regularly and in 1972 a steering committee was formed to find a location for the group home.

     Buncombe County Group Home for the Developmentally Disabled was chartered in 1974 and several of the steering committee members were on the original Board of Directors.

On May 1, 1975 they signed a lease for St. Dunstan’s Manor.  House parents moved into the home in preparation for the first residents.  This was the first group home for Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Buncombe County.  It was originally conceived as a transitional home for those coming from institutions to independent living or for adult children of aging parents.  They received their first license from Buncombe Co. DSS in October 1975 and in December the first 6 residents moved into the home.

     The house was owned by Joe Ramsey, who worked in the local school system, in Special Education.  In 1978, Mr. Ramsey sold the house to Clifford and Eulen Walker and they continued our lease. 

     Construction was begun on Chiles Avenue Group Home in 1980.  It was finished in 1981 and on September 1, 1981, four residents moved into the 5 bedroom home.  Two of those residents still live there today.

     In January 1982, the Board of Directors voted to change the name to Mountain Area Residential Facilities, Inc. in order to more accurately reflect what we do.  In 1983, the Walkers very generously donated the property at St. Dunstan’s Manor to our Agency.  In October 1984, we started the apartment living program at St. Dunstan’s.

     Earlier that year the employees of MARF discussed the possibility of a Comp Ed Program at AB Tech and Rick Phillips presented the idea to AB Tech.  Although no follow up is noted in the board minutes, we assume the program was started after that proposal.  The idea of a Human Rights Committee was first discussed by the Board in July 1984.  In 1986 a proposal was brought to the board to change the license at Chiles Avenue Group Home to an ICF/MR.  The first QMRP was hired at Chiles the following year and in February 1988, Chiles Avenue became a 5 bed ICF/MR group home. 

     In October 1990, Scott Buchanan, longest serving BOD member joined the board.  The first intern at MARF came in 1991 from UNCA.  Prior to 1993, legislation was passed to allow 5 bed ICF’s/MR to become 6 bed facilities if space allowed, and the first documentation was submitted in 1993 for that to happen at Chiles Avenue.  This was a lengthy process involving completing an entire Certificate of Need and the bed was not filled until February 1997.  This process was helped along by Sherry Ginn, Outreach Director at Black Mountain Center, who joined our board in 1994.

 
     MARF, Inc. began a new program in January 1995 serving adults with Traumatic Brain Injuries(TBI)and coordinated by Kevin Barnes.  This was funded by a state grant which was activated in July 1995.  Shortly after this,  MARF, Inc., completed the process to become a vendor for the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in order to serve theTBI clients vocationally.  We provided that service for approximately 10 years. 

     Jeanne Cagle accepted the position of Executive Director in March 1996 and has provided continuity throughout her tenure.  She has been facilitating the Women’s Group, which provides support and social skills for women in the community with developmental challenges for approximately 7 years.  This is another outreach of MARF. 

     In 2003 an opportunity to provide Case Management for those living with spinal cord injuries at Life House was presented.  We did not become the facilitator at that time, but did begin our work there in early 2005 and it continues today, facilitated by Patti Turbyfill.

In an effort to support other agencies, we provided QMRP support to the ARC of Haywood’s ICF/MR Home during 2003.

      Because of a need to move from the group home to more appropriate administrative office space,  we moved the administrative office to 108 Cedar Ridge Dr. in February 2005.

In March 2006, Patti Turbyfill became acting QMRP at Chiles Avenue Group Home and accepted her current position there as QMRP in June 2006. Currently, Patti is the QP at both homes. Cathy Hudson was hired as our bookkeeper in late 1994 and was promoted to Business Manager in 2004, a position she still holds today as our employee with the most years of service. 

     The early years at MARF, Inc. were a bit rough as the regulations were still being developed, funding was uncertain, and staff training was sporadic.   The important part of those early years was the belief that regardless of the problems we faced as a non profit, we had supportive, caring, dedicated individuals on our Board of Directors, who believed in our mission to serve those who needed us.   The second important component of our agency has always been caring staff, who go above and beyond to do the right thing.  The third important piece is the provider community we are blessed to represent and be a part of, which is a group of colleagues I value.  The most important part of  this equation are the people we serve,  and the gifts they give to us each day. 

      We were honored this year to be awarded a three year accreditation by CARF International, which is a way to show we are upholding certain standards as an agency in  our field.  We have served over 175 people in our 35 years in business,  and have supported over 20 interns in various fields of study, who go out and replicate some of the values we hold.      

                                                                       Compiled by Jeanne Cagle, Executive Director

There are a couple of years of Board Minutes we could not find.  If we have omitted anything, please accept our apologies.