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‘The right fit’


Marvin Saunders has found a home and roommates that are a great fit for him.

Marvin Saunders is incredibly proud of his Ohio State Buckeyes themed bedroom.

He enjoys having his own space where he can get up early and help get breakfast ready, play checkers with his roommates but also have time to himself.

For many years, his goal was to move out of the house he grew up in and live more independently. In May of 2016, that became a reality.

It didn’t take long for Marvin, 58, to come up with a nickname for the three men living in the house — “The Cool Cats.”

“It just feels like he is a member of our extended family,” said Harriet Wood, a direct support professional at CSS who works in their Newark home. “He keeps us laughing and having fun.”

A lifelong Licking County resident, Marvin attended the E. S. Weiant Starlight School and worked on his sister’s horse farm for many years after graduation.

After his father passed away, their family began working together to connect Marvin with more resources in the community.

With support from his service coordinator at the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCBDD), he began attending SPARK and then got connected with the Gathering Place

Although Marvin liked living with his mother, Lucille Saunders, he began expressing the desire to live more independently. His family supported his decision.

“We knew we needed to think about his future and where he would live,” said Marvin’s sister Eve McDonald. “Mom wanted to know that he would be okay.”

Marvin’s family is very close, and they worked together to come up with a “wish list” for Marvin’s next home. At first Marvin wanted to look for an apartment, but they settled on looking at houses.

LCBDD Service Coordinator Amanda Osborn connected them with the resources they needed to begin touring homes.

“We were able to take our time and find the right fit,” Eve said. “When we walked into the second house on our list, it didn’t take us long at all. We thought, ‘This is the one.'”

Marvin instantly felt comfortable in the house, and enjoyed the staffs’ sense of humor.

“We had an instant connection,” Harriet said.

It’s clear to his family and friends that Marvin is really happy with his new living situation. He’s not the only one.

“I’m very satisfied,” Lucille said.

“Mom has said we couldn’t have picked a better place, with better people,” Marvin’s sister Dawn McCoy added.

Now Marvin spends three days a week at the Gathering Place and earns a paycheck working at Midwest Health Services.

He enjoys going out shopping and playing checkers and corn hole. He also loves spending time with J.J. and Baby, the two house cats. He was recently elected as sergeant at arms for the Aktion Club of Licking County.

In the summer, he’s looking forward to going swimming at the Heath pool and going camping with his housemates and staff.

“He’s more independent here,” Dawn said. “His dream was to have his own place and his own life.”

Although Marvin got connected with LCBDD later in life, he and his family said they are grateful for the support they’ve received.

“I don’t know what we would do without his service coordinator,” Eve said. “We wouldn’t have known where to start. I don’t know what we would have done without them.”

Both Eve and Dawn said they hope that Marvin’s success can help other adults realize that if they want to live more independently, they have options.

“It’s possible,” Eve said. “We didn’t know it could work out this well.”

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