A unique partnership between Oklahomans for Independent Living in McAlester and a developer from St. Paul, Minnesota called Accessible Space, Inc. means that at the Rock Ridge Apartments, residents with disabilities or traumatic brain injuries have apartments specifically designed with their needs in mind.
“Living in a place like this may mean they don’t have to go to a nursing home or a place with 24-hour care,” said Corinna Lowe of Accessible Space. “They can live here independently.”
Located just a few blocks from hospitals and doctors offices, Rock Ridge features 15 one and two bedroom apartments which are completely accessible. Features include roll-in showers, lower cabinets, wider doorways, lowered electrical outlets and wide hallways. All apartments and common areas are easily navigable for those with wheelchairs, scooters or walkers.
“Networking and collaborating with ASI in bringing the Rock Ridge Apartments to McAlester was a great adventure,” said Pam Pulchny, executive director for Oklahomans for Independent Living. “OIL saw the need for a fully accessible apartment complex and ASI helped address the need.”
Resident Linda Brown lived in nearby Krebs while the apartments were under construction. She knew she wanted to move into Rock Ridge before it was even complete. It’s a decision she hasn’t regretted.
“I couldn’t tell you the best part. I just love it all,” said Linda. “I decorated it just the way I wanted. This is my castle.”
Linda said she appreciates the cleanliness of the entire building and the accessible features.
“I feel comfortable here,” Linda said.
Fellow resident Dale Bevins came to the McAlester area from California on vacation to visit family. He ended up filling out an application and moving into Rock Ridge.
“I’m very happy with it. It’s a nice, big apartment and everything’s real easy for handicapped people,” said Dale. “They always call and see if you need to go anywhere. The rent is real reasonable for the handicapped people.”
Onsite caretaker Larry McLendon goes out of his way to ensure residents feel proud to live at Rock Ridge. In the summertime, he grills hotdogs and burgers and freezes homemade ice cream. In the community room, residents play friendly games of dominoes or checkers. More importantly is what he does to make sure residents feel safe and cared for.
“Larry has been an outstanding asset to us, said Corinna Lowe of Accessible Space, Inc. “He always makes himself available to the residents which gives them a sense of security. He answers the phone at all hours. He puts the extra effort out there.”
As a resident himself, Larry sees Rock Ridge as his home and the residents as family.
“If I don’t see a tenant within a 12 to 14 hour period and I know I’m used to seeing them, I’ll go knock on their door for a welfare check,” said Larry.
Those added touches are very much appreciated by Rock Ridge.
“Overall the residents feel safer here,” said Larry. “Everything is handy for them. It couldn’t be any better.”
The Rock Ridge Apartments received $346,668 from OHFA through the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) to help make development possible.