Kim Fox finds community in Jeremiah’s Ranch
Local Realtor Kathy Fortenberry talks about why Jeremiah’s Ranch is important
All parents worry about their children. Parents of children with developmental disabilities worry more. What will happen to my child when I’m no longer here to take care of them? Who will advocate for my child? Will they be mistreated or worse yet not have a home?
Kim Fox, born with cerebral palsy and deaf, is fortunate. His parents lived long lives. The youngest of 3 boys, Kim was able to live at home until his fifties. As his parents aged, they became less and less able to take care of Kim’s complex needs.
“Kim would sit for hours in his room watching cartoons,” local realtor Kathy Fortenberry says. Kathy’s husband Matt is Kim’s nephew.
Kim’s brother, Brad Fox, a retired science teacher at Potter Junior High, saw the writing on the wall. His parents were too elderly to take care of Kim. Brad made inquiries connecting Kim with Care Rite, an organization that serves people with developmental disabilities in Fallbrook. Kim started having a social network and a job where he received a small pay check.
Through networking Brad found Larry and Linda White who had an adult child, Evan, with Down Syndrome. Larry and Linda agreed to take Kim in as a tenant after Kim’s parents passed away.
“I know he understood the concept of death,” Kathy says. “He mourned their death.” Kim’s parents died within six months of each other.
Larry and Linda started a dialogue about what they wanted for their own son Evan when they became too old to take care of him. They talked to other parents who had similar concerns. Out of this was born Jeremiah’s Ranch. Jeremiah’s Ranch became a nonprofit six years ago. It is seeking funding to build their vision of community housing with a recreation room and organic farm for people like Evan and Kim. In the interim Linda works with the San Diego Regional Center to provide Supported Living Services. Over the last 6 years, Jeremiah’s Ranch has been building community.
Kim participates in Jeremiah’s Ranch College of Adaptive Education (CAE) classes taking art and dance classes. He has also participated in Jeremiah’s Ranch sponsored Special Olympics and Jeremiah’s Ranch social activities. Jeremiah’s Ranch offers a monthly parent support group meeting which includes a social for the children who attend.
Kathy Fortenberry says, “When I first met Kim in 1993 he was awkward and shy. Now he is like a show man.”
Kathy attributes Kim’s new lease on life to Linda White. “She worked with Kim by expanding his communication skills and social connections.” Linda is currently teaching an American Sign Language class through CAE.
“Kim was secluded for such a long time. It made such a difference to have a social life, make friends and participate in things he doesn’t usually do. He is now more independent and happier than ever.”
Kathy Fortenberry supports Jeremiah’s Ranch by giving 10 percent of her real estate commissions to clients who mention Jeremiah’s Ranch. You can reach her by calling (760) 468-5642 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremiah’s Ranch is seeking funding to build housing and a community center in Fallbrook.