The golf tournament benefiting Bridgewood Farms on Nov. 1 is one of three big fundraisers that the oldest non-profit organization in Montgomery County holds every year.
“Bridgewood Farms has been in existence for 52 years. We are actually the oldest non-profit in Montgomery County under continuous operation,” Bridgewood Farms Director of Development Kristi Leggett said. “We’ve gone through a couple of name changes because whenever it first started, obviously the language for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults and teens was worded a little bit differently.”
Leggett said Bridgewood Farms was started by three women who all had special needs kids, but there wasn’t a program available to give them the needs they needed to be viable in the community. Leggett said the school districts then started special education programs.
“When that started, and the younger kids were taken care of, they decided, okay so what happens to these kids whenever they age out of the school system,” Leggett said. “So, they evolved with that need, and that’s how we came into existence.”
Leggett said a lot of the special needs kids are usually in the school system until the age of 21 at which time they age out.
“Most of our clients come to us on a part-time basis, between like 17 and 21, so they can start acclimating to a change in program, and then after 21, usually they’ll come to us full-time,” Leggett said.
Leggett said some of the clients live at Bridgewood Farms, which is located at 11680 Rose Road in Conroe. There are four residential homes on the property that house 16 clients.
“We actually serve up to 120 clients every day, so we’ve instituted a transportation system where we actually go and pick up a lot of our clients because otherwise they would not be able to receive those services, just because they had no way of getting there,” Leggett said.
A lot of the clients at Bridgewood Farms are in group homes or are older children of even older parents, some of which don’t really get out and drive much. Leggett said the transportation need is so huge and is expensive for them, but without it, those clients, a lot of them would be shut-ins and would not be living the community-involved life that our clients are able to do.
The age range of the clients at Bridgewood is 18 to 72, according to Leggett.
“All the clients have a schedule, and that helps them establish a routine, it gives them a sense of comfort,” Leggett said. “We have different programs, like adult continuing education that focuses on anything from money management skills, life skills and history lessons to just your writing, English/language arts and reading classes to help those skills. A lot of our clients are able to learn those skills, it’s the retention that they struggle with because of their diagnosis. It’s that repetitive action that helps them retain those skills.”
Other programs Bridgewood Farms has include pre-vocational skills, which teaches the clients job skills, and allows some of them to get employment. Leggett said they also offer a health/PE/fitness program, which helps the clients stay active.
“A lot of this population usually gets very stagnant, so they typically end up with health problems on top of health problems that are already associated with their particular diagnosis,” Leggett said.
There’s also a ceramics and fine arts department, which Leggett said helps with fine motor skills, but also gives the clients the ability to express themselves in different ways, because a lot of the clients are non-verbal or limited verbally.
“We do our life skills class, we have horticulture, so not only do we raise poinsettias and Easter lilies that we actually sell to help fund these programs, but a lot of our guys help keep up the grounds of the property,” Leggett said.
Bridgewood Farms holds three major fundraisers throughout the year, one of which is the charity golf tournament that’s being held Nov. 1 at River Plantation Golf Club in Conroe. The other fundraisers are “Around the World in 180 Minutes” wine-tasting fundraiser in the spring, and the “Burn Your Buns” bike ride on the Fourth of July.
“Those all help to fund the different programs and services,” Leggett said. “It also helps to fund scholarships for students that want to come that otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It’s really an opportunity not only for us to raise money that we obviously need, but to allow the community to come and see what we’re doing and for us to be a part of the community.”
For more information about the fundraisers, or general information about Bridgewood Farms, log onto: https://bridgewoodfarms.org/