Westport Associates, Inc. was incorporated in 1980 and opened its’ first homes for individuals with developmental disabilities in 1981. At the time, the deinstitutionalization movement was the impetus for movement of individuals from institutional living to real homes in the community. One of the co-founders of the agency and its’ Executive Director, Steven Murphy, assisted in identifying ten individuals for whom the agency would provide services. Group homes of two or three and individual apartments are used to provide support services to these individuals.
When envisioning the mission and planning principles, a high priority was placed on the need to maintain personalism and as such, provision of services to only a few and for life if they so choose. Basing much of our thinking and planning on the works of Jean Vanier and L’Arche, we opened homes with support staff termed “Life-sharers“. Our “Life-sharers” live and recreate alongside the individuals at the home as well as share and participate equally in all activities, decisions, and routines without staff/client distinctions.
This communal living philosophy remains today as a tenet of our agency beliefs. Administratively, there are only three support directors who oversee the activities of all homes and who are supervised directly by the Executive Director. These support directors, all of whom began as support staff, provide role modeling to the staff by working alongside them on a regular basis.