Thank you to everyone who attended our open house on Saturday, September 17th.  It was wonderful to see old friends and new!  There is much to celebrate as Creative Living expands our programs to include new initiatives for teenagers.  In celebration of our 25th Anniversary, Creative Living recently appeared on the front page of the Andover Townsman which is included here.

5 years of providing Creative 'home away from home'

By Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer | Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 11:35 am

Johnny Garabedian, 44, starts every day being thankful for what he has and reminding others that they should too. His is a well-known face around town, as he attends a variety of sporting and patriotic events.

"I got up on the right side of the grass," he joked as he stopped by one of his favorite places in town - the Creative Living house on South Main Street. "It's always family first and this is my family."

Creative Living Inc., is a private, non-profit Andover organization with a mission of providing services and support to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. For Garabedian and scores of other developmentally disabled residents it sure has been an important second family.

Andover High School special needs student Katie Garofoli just landed an internship with Creative Living. She's helping to manage its data base and at 17, she's the Facebook queen in the office.

She laughed and sunk into the couch when she heard that. But her father, Peter Garafoli of Andover, said the notice means a lot.

"I just found out about Creative Living last year...This is all privately funded," he said. "It's just a great community."

As Creative Living celebrates 25 years this weekend, its success can be seen in the smiles of so many like Katie and Johnny.

"Johnny just loves to come here," said his mother, Eileen Garabedian of Andover. "The social programs are great."

If it's Wednesday, it's the social night and there's usually a themed party, an outing or meal being offered inside the pretty white house that quietly fits in the upscale neighborhood. Volunteer chaperones lend a hand and parents get to take a few hours for themselves.

GetAway weekends are also offered. Developmentally disabled guests stay for two nights while primary caregivers get some time to rest and renew elsewhere.

Leo and Nancy Griffin of West Andover have been going to Creative Living since their daughter, Amy, was a baby. Now 34, she's involved with numerous Creative Living programs, including the Creative Living Independence Project, called CLIP.

Everyday tasks, like cooking, budgeting money and computer skills, are covered in CLIP and its benefits are obvious to the Griffins.

"She used to be waited on all the time. Now, she picks up after herself and even helps me in the kitchen," Nancy Griffin said.

"I like to help with the brownies," Amy laughed.

That giggle made longtime volunteer and president Lucille Giannone laugh. She used to cradle Amy in her arms and sing lullabyes to her.

Giannone is the Creative Living go-to person, making sure the issues of the developmentally disabled are heard. She's on various boards in town, including the Andover Service Club.

Proudly, she says Creative Living is a non-profit organization that gets no state money. Private donations and grants help pay its four part-time workers.

Creative Living was founded in 1986 by Andover residents Rosalie Ruggiero and former selectman Larry Larsen. The mission is to enhance the lives of developmentally disabled individuals.

Located on just under five acres, Creative Living is at the front of the property next to the Faith Lutheran Church, while Lutheran Creative Living manages eight apartments for developmentally-challenged adults in a separate building at the back of the property. The two groups are separate businesses.

"I know we're quiet, there's no sign for us and people probably wonder what's going on in the white house," Giannone said. Check out the open house on Saturday to find out. The public is most welcome.

Creative Living Open house Saturday

To say thank you and to celebrate the newly decorated Creative Living house and its 25th anniversary, the organization says it is inviting the public to an open house Saturday, Sept. 17, from 1 to 4 p.m., to tour the home, hear about all the group's programs, including new initiatives for teenagers, and enjoy light refreshments. Creative Living is located at 368 South Main St.