Meet Janette Kinard: Serving teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Janette Kinard founded Champion House of Care ten years ago to serve teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities – providing them with life skills, job training, and ways to interact with each other and their community. But she's expanded the group to help fill needs where she sees them.
Kinard found a place to sit between a box full of prom dresses and one filled with toiletries when we talked on a recent morning. The room was packed with items that support all the roles she’s taken on. She was preparing to host a prom for more than one hundred people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The toiletries were for children living in the hotels that surround Sugar Creek Road and Interstate-85 where Kinard’s group is located. “One time they called me the ‘Angel on the Block,’ now they all just call me ‘Mama,’” Kinard said.
The community around Sugar Creek and I-85 has a lot of needs. Many families who can’t find affordable housing live in the hotels surrounding the intersection. Police say the hotels are also an easy stop-off for people using I-85 as a conduit for crimes.
“I've been here nine years and it's gotten better or worse, better or worse. It's time to change it,” Kinard said.
Kinard established Champion House of Care as a place to pick up toiletries, diapers, and baby clothes. The group also teaches the teens and adults it serves to help their neighbors without homes. The group serves up to 80 meals a day. This summer, Champion House of Care will open its first summer camp for children living below the poverty level.
She recently formed the Sugar Creek Business Association as another way to tackle some of the area’s challenges. And city officials have tapped her to help with the transition of a rundown hotel the city bought into a property that could include affordable housing and retail.
Her drive to help has also led her to assist the seniors displaced last Christmas from the Magnolia Senior Apartments on Beatties Ford Road. Champion House of Care has pitched in to advocate for them and provide food, clothes, and rides to the doctor.