New center provides welcoming environment and support for people with developmental


The need for support vs. the desire for independence.

Over the past two decades, Balance Inc. has worked with people with developmental disabilities and their families to strike a balance between those two. Its newest initiative, the Center for Community Supported Living, aims to further that goal and strengthen an individual’s ability to determine how they live their life.

“A big part of the center is to encourage and provide support for people who want to make choices about their own services rather than someone else imposing the choice on them,” said Craig Modahl, Balance’s founder and executive director.

Modahl and his wife, Sandy, began Balance in 1991, initially serving two individuals with disabilities who were at risk of being institutionalized. Over the years, Balance has grown to serve 120 through a variety of programs including seven adult family homes, a community-based adult day service program, a supported living program and a summer recreation program.

Despite those programs and other opportunities in the community, staff recognized gaps still existed in terms of available resources and education. The new center, which opened in July near downtown Grafton, aims to fill those holes. It features a computer resource center, kitchen, gathering space, media center and a self-service coffee area. It’s designed as a drop-in center and is open weekdays as well as evening and weekend hours. A host manages it and an advisory group of people with disabilities help shape the activities and programming.

The center was designed as a resource for people with disabilities but staff also see it as a place to educate and provide assistance to family, caregivers and the community. To date, school districts and other nonprofits have been among the visitors.

“It is one of those things where you are directly helping the people with the disability but in essence you are also helping the family and the community by being able to provide all the support services,” Modahl said.

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Funding needs include

$250 for training for volunteer organizations and faith-based communities on how to include individuals with disabilities in community activities to $1,000 for first month’s rent, security deposit and furnishings to help an individual move into their first apartment.