Imagine yourself as a young adult person who has developmental disabilities, and your home has always been The Arizona Children’s Colony or some other institutional facility. Then, imagine being told you are leaving the Colony and your family cannot care for you because of various reasons. Where are you to go, and what are you to do?
Lura Ann Turner saw this immediate need of housing and care for these special people. In 1965, with great faith, $1,000.00, an open door policy, and a vision of hope Lura and a good friend opened the first home/learning center. Located in downtown Phoenix, it was named La Casa Para Aprendices – The Home For Slow Learners.
Coming from an institutional setting, the new residents had overwhelming challenges at times. Lura and her loyal volunteers devoted hours to teaching them basic living skills and taking care of their personal needs, their belongings and personal space. A major task was teaching them how to adapt to society and the community around them. The residents had to learn about public safety and how to use public transportation. Lura and others taught them about shopping and how to conduct themselves in public places such as church, restaurants, and social events. They attended a sheltered workshop, learned valuable work skills and developed strong work ethic, which enabled some of the residents to find jobs.
Because of Lura’s vision, commitment and the faithful support of volunteers, the residents had a home and gained much needed self-respect.
During the late 60’s, the home was well established and the demand for residential care was great. There was a growing waiting list of individuals who needed a home; so in 1970 a second home was purchased in Phoenix on West Lynwood Street. It was immediately filled, and continues to be home for 6 residents today. Another milestone was passed when the agency became incorporated in 1967 and registered as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 1974. Later, in honor and recognition of Lura’s accomplishments, the name of the agency was changed to Lura Turner Homes, Inc.
Due to the costly maintenance on the original home and the ever present waiting list, a new facility was opened in March 1989. With the aid of two grants, the major one, given by the Civitan Foundation, and the second, First Interstate Foundation, the down payment was made on a complex of three duplexes. The receipt of the Civitan grant was secured, in part, due to the demonstration of nine local Civitan Clubs pledging their continued support of Lura Turner Homes and the facility. It was named Civitan House, and 26 residents moved there on March 1st. A City of Phoenix Community Block Grant was awarded to modify two kitchens, making one large one for centralized cooking. It also created a large dining room, and laundry/food storage room. Employee groups from local corporations assisted in supplying furnishings and continue to lend support in upgrading the quality of the facility. It is licensed as an Assisted Living Center by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
In the fall of 1989, the Lynwood Home became licensed by the Department of Economic Security/Division of Developmental Disabilities (DES). Refurbishing this historic home has been ongoing. In 1986 and again in 1996, grant money was obtained for interior redecoration and replacement of the roof.
Another home, located on 35th Avenue was opened for five residents in 1990; however, a more suitable residence was found on W. Marlette, and four additional residents moved there in 1994. The home is also licensed by DES.
To provide services for the residents, a work shop for job skill training and production of piece rate items was opened in 1985. Starting out in a classroom at a local church, moving to a small house, and then to a more suitable location at an industrial complex, Lura Turner Enterprises provided the residents and others from the surrounding community with the opportunity to learn work skills and receive an income. With a decrease in participants over the years due to job placements in the community, it was decided to close the workshop in 1998.
Lura Turner Homes opened an Adult Day Training Program in 1989 for the residents and other adults living in the community, and the program operates during the day, Monday through Friday. The participants learn new skills, reinforce daily living skills, concentrate on cognitive learning, enjoy crafts, and take trips for community integration.