Three men and their home at Templeton
On a freezing cold morning last month, the fields of snow shone in the sunlight as Tony Shepherd drove through the Templeton Developmental Center campus in Baldwinville in central Massachusetts, pointing out the sights.
“It’s God’s country,” he said, of the 1,400-acre campus that stretched around us in all directions. Directly ahead of us loomed the peak of Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire.
At the top of the much smaller hill on which we were driving, a group of cottages, farm houses, and small brick buildings was scattered. Those buildings are home to the 106 residents of the Templeton Center, which has been targeted by the Patrick administration for closure by Fiscal Year 2013.
If you talk to Tony Shepherd and other guardians of the Templeton residents, you’ll often hear the word “miracle” used to describe this facility for persons with intellectual disabilities, with its working farm and dairy operation. I talked to three of those guardians, and each described how Templeton turned out to be the solution to problems that, in some cases, had brought them or other members of their family to the brink of despair.
Jimmy Holdsworth kept getting thrown out of community-based group homes and sheltered workshops because his behavior was too volatile and his size and strength were too much for the staff to handle.
For Tony Welcome, community-based programs were ineffective in getting him to stop stealing cars.
Bobby Shepherd’s habit of wandering and trying to make friends with strangers frequently got him into trouble, and community-based programs didn’t provide the structure and supervision he needed.
In each of those cases, the Templeton Developmental Center turned out to be the solution to years of pain and struggle, not only for the men, but for their families. But it’s a solution that will no longer be available to those families or the families of the 103 other remaining residents of Templeton as of the end of Fiscal Year 2013.