LAFAYETTE, Ind. — There's momentum surrounding a Lafayette facility that's getting national attention.
"Grant's House is an after-school program for kids that have special needs that can come and grow and learn and set goals, and to better themselves to one day want to aspire to live on their own," Tamara House explained.
The Tippecanoe County facility opened in August 2019 with 21 rooms, which include a model apartment. It offers a feel of independence, while teaching life skills like how to do laundry.
Through her relationships as a realtor, House and her family raised $3.6 million to make the it all possible. It's a cause that's dear to her heart.
"Grief is hard. A loss of a child is hard," House said.
The program is named in honor of her son, Grant, who passed away in 2015, just two weeks shy of his 26th birthday.
"You go through the emotions of why and then the emotions of 'I don't want to get up and work today,' but my goal is to put my feet on the ground every day to keep my son Grant's spirit alive and to keep joy in my own heart, knowing that Grant's House is bringing joy to a lot of kids and to a lot of families," Tamara said.
Grant was born with a brain tumor and overcame the challenges of four brain surgeries.
"Doctors told us that he would not be able to graduate from high school probably, or do math very well, but he proved them all wrong," she said.
Now — even after his death — he's helping others do the same. There are classes and projects like art and a light sensory room to help with moods and calming. A rainbow dial turns the entire room's lighting any color of the rainbow.
There's also a Studio 54 music room; in fact, that number is present in many places around the facility.
"Every year as a family we set goals together. In Grant's last year, he wrote 105 goals for himself and goal No. 54 was to thank God everyday for his life," House said. "So throughout the walls and the halls of Grant's House and within this building you see No. 54 in every room."
The program is catching national attention, including from the National Associate of Realtors, which just honored Tamara with the prestigious Good Neighbor Award. Realtor Elaine Grill in Arizona nominated her. The proceeds from the award will be used for a new sensory playground.
"The testimonies that we hear from families that have children or young adults here at Grant's House is what brings us so much joy and so much pride, knowing that we are making a difference," House said.
House estimated there are 3,5000 children with special needs in Tippecanoe County.