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VINE VILLAGE HISTORY
In this section we'll take a look back at our financially-strapped but enthusiastic beginnings, and trace Vine Village's changes and development over the years. So far this is a definite Work-In-Progress. Contributions and suggestions are eagerly solicited. Email us if you have contributions to make to this effort.
1972 - Prelude
1972: PLANNING VINE VILLAGE:
George and Grace Kerson's daughter, Debbie, was getting ready to graduate from St. Vincent's School in Santa Barbara, CA, and they were concerned by the paucity of choices for her as a young adult. During this time they visited Camphill Village in New York, The Lambs in Chicago, and various kibbutzim in Israel. These experiences got them thinking about creating new opportunities for Debbie and others like her.
They wanted Debbie to have every opportunity and encouragement to continue to grow and learn, and they wanted her to feel safe, secure, and valued. They envisioned a residential program that would encourage continual learning and the development of as much independence as much as possible for the individual, while also providing needed support and assistance. They wanted a True Home with close family-like human relationships. They wanted opportunities to feel valued and useful, and to perform meaningful and relevant work, regardless of an individual's abilities or disabilities. Most of all, they wanted an atmosphere of Respect and Dignity for all individuals.
A rural or semi-rural location was sought, so that self-support programs such as gardening and vineyard farming could be conducted. Since Debbie was an ardent horse buff, they also wanted a place where horses and similar pets could be kept.
In the early 1970's, there were only a couple of choices for a person with developmental disabilities. There was the State Hospital, there were a few scattered private institutions modelled after the State Hospital in many ways, and there was living at home. ( This was the early days of the Lanterman Act, and Group Homes were just starting to be created, but the Kersons and Bagnanis did not choose these for their children.)
The State Hospital was out of the question for the Kersons.
Having Debbie live at home into her adult years was also undesirable, for a
number of reasons:
The Kersons wanted to be proactive. They wanted moving out to be a positive step that Debbie could view proudly as a milestone of growing up, just as her older brothers had moved out on their own when they became young adults.
A like-minded friend was Dante Bagnani. One night in the autumn of 1972, George presented his ideas to Dante. Without a moment's hesitation, Dante replied, "Let's do it!"
So they began looking for a location for their dream program. In December, they put a down payment on a beautiful horse ranch in the Carneros region of southern Napa County.
This property was purchased from Frances Stearns\Coronap Corp in late 1972.
Vine Village, Inc. is a 501c(3) non-profit
organization located in the Napa, CA Wine Country