Come as you are... and bring a friend!
In August of 1955, at 3½ years old, Diane Miller was one of many who contracted polio during an epidemic that swept Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From this point on her life included leg braces and crutches to enable her to walk. These assistive devices were a minor inconvenience, but not intolerable.
Unexpectedly in the mid-1980’s a lightweight manual wheelchair was introduced into Diane’s life. Post-Polio Syndrome was causing her to experience fatigue, an unsteady gait that at times resulted in falling, coupled with new aches and pains. It wasn’t long before Diane found her environment impossible.
In an effort to address this problem, in the fall of 1989 the Leo and Sara Miller family founded Welcome House of Modification Examples, Inc a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation. The sole purpose of this program was to create an avenue for sharing the importance of wheelchair accessible home design.
Money was raised, and Welcome House of Modification Examples, Inc purchased a 17-acre parcel of land. Complete with mature woodland, prairie and rolling hillsides, it was an ideal building site for the Welcome Home’s vision. Over the next three years, wheelchair accessible trails were excavated in the woods, picnic areas were created, and a cedar boardwalk was completed. Construction of the main house began in 1996. During the following two years, hundreds of volunteers devoted thousands of hours to build our distinctive single-family home, with an attached 2-bedroom 2-bathroom Bed and Breakfast.
On May 1, 1998 the 36-inch wide wheelchair friendly doors to Welcome HOME opened to the public. We continue to operate today as a one-of-a-kind 3,650 square foot wheelchair accessible demonstration home.
Tours of the entire home are now provided – by appointment - free of charge.
Fast forward to current day. Leo and Sara Miller have sadly passed away, but their extended family remains actively involved.
Proudly, Welcome HOME is operated entirely by volunteers – we employ NO paid staff. Volunteers come one-time or repeatedly. Our dedicated retired guys show up weekly to tackle the “to do” list. Additional help has come from an Eagle Scout project, West Bend High School Career development classes, Girl Scouts and church youth groups, corporate “give-back” days, families and individuals.
Welcome HOME volunteers design Web pages and brochures, edit newsletters, paint inside and out, maintain the grounds and gardens. They are board and committee members, carpenters, plumbers, problem solvers, tax preparers, fund raisers, and above all, advocates for our vision of educating others.
Welcome HOME offers presentations promoting the importance of accessible housing. Audiences have included architects, civic organizations, university interior design and architecture students, disability and housing conference attendees, parent and caregiver groups.
Hundreds of families have taken advantage of our free house tours. We’ve given tours to educators, including a Physical Therapy Professor from India and builders from around the country interested in honing their accessible design knowledge.
“Living With Disability,” an interactive awareness exercise, was designed to give folks not familiar with this lifestyle a small taste of the challenges that everyday life heaps on those living with a disability. Upon entering Welcome HOME each participant is assigned a disability, given the appropriate assistive device, and asked to perform a typical household daily task. Occupational, Physical Therapy, Interior Design students, Future Community Leader class participants, and Scout groups have all participated. The eye-opening wrap-up conversations are always lively and informative.
The Welcome HOME Bed & Breakfast has hosted guests from around the country, including Alaska, as well as from around the world – China, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, Canada, Wales, Great Britain. Some guests are here to explore accessible home design. Others come purely to enjoy some rest and relaxation.
Whatever the reason for your visit, our mission remains the same - “to enrich the lives of individuals and families living with disability.”
Diane - Hostess