Group home welcomes former residents of Southwestern Virginia Training Center

Local News

When Charlotte Barkley learned her stepson’s home would be closing its doors, she was deeply concerned.

“The biggest thing was he was safe and secure,” says Barkley.

Her stepson, Doug, is 49 years old. He has autism and is unable to speak. His home for more than thirty years was the Southwestern Virginia Training Center.

And like many others, Barkley had worries about how Doug would transition to a new home.

“We fought every way we could to fight to keep the training center open,” says Barkley.

But now Doug is living in a community home operated by Good Neighbor. In a public-private partnership with the state, Good Neighbor opened the home earlier this year to fill the void left by the training center’s closure. 

In addition to the home in Hillsville where Doug resides, Good Neighbor operates six other homes in the Southwestern Virginia area, each with a capacity of five residents.

“Individuals are in smaller settings. Anywhere from 4 to 6 bedrooms. They typically have the freedom to do a lot more in the community,” says Luke Lemon, development manager with Good Neighbor Homes. 

Each home is staffed according to resident needs. Despite her initial worries, Barkley feels Doug has settled in to his new residence well.

“Autistics generally don’t sleep very many hours at a time. He’s sleeping all night. That’s a big, big change for him and I’m really pleased to see it,” says Barkley.

And while Doug can now rest easy, so too can his parents-knowing he’s right at home.

Good Neighbor Homes is in the process of licensing an eighth home in Southwestern Virginia. That home is located in Galax. 

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