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Evergreen celebrates 60 years

by Minden Press-Herald

Special to the Minden Press-Herald

In 1959 a gallon of gas cost 25 cents; Alaska and Hawaii became states; Mattei’s Barbie doll hit the shelves and a few parents in a sleepy northern Louisiana town had a dream. They dreamed that their adult sons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) could attend an overnight summer camp. 

Summer camp for people with I/DD may not seem like a groundbreaking idea now, but 60 years ago, there were few, if any options. Programs and activities to assist in the development and care of children and adults with I/DD simply did not exist. 

It was common at that time for doctors to tell parents that the best place for their child was in an institution. 

The founding families of Evergreen refused to accept institutionalization as their only option. The Presbyterian leaders within the Synod of Louisiana, now known as the Synod of the Sun, took this dream and turned it into a reality greater than they could ever have imagined. 

Evergreen was born, with a mission to provide people with I/DD with the skills needed to become contributing members of their communities.  

“The idea that a person with an intellectual disability could be a part of society, have a job, learn life skills and not be confined to a life of institutional monotony was revolutionary at that time Sue Buchholtz, CEO of Evergreen Life Services said. 

Evergreen grew. From four people served the first year, to 50 the third year, to nearly 300 in its 11th year. Evergreen’s reputation across the United States also grew. Soon, Evergreen was recognized as a national leader in serving people with I/DD. 

Before long, the people served by Evergreen were finding jobs and living in their communities. Their parents finally achieved peace of mind, knowing that their sons and daughters would be well taken care of and lead happy and fulfilling lives. 

Thanks to you, we now serve more than 1,100 people across eight states (Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida) with diverse programs and supports, ranging from day programs, to community homes, to vocational training and much more. We have closed three institutional facilities, moving the residents into homes in their communities. Hundreds of people served by Evergreen have found jobs. We change lives – every day. 

Sure, gas is no longer a quarter and the original Barbie is a collector’s item. But today, your support has kept the Evergreen dream alive. Thank you for making all the difference! 

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