From Solon Times
By: Michelle Collins

Over the next month, the residents of Solon Community Living (SCL) will be moving into their new homes. These brand new apartments, situated in a planned community for adults with disabilities, is a first for Solon, and really, for the nation.

Julie Sova, who will move into Solon Community Living in the next month, stands on her soon-to-be front porch, a porch she said she plans to use for reading and birdwatching. Eventually 14 adults with disabilities and several onsite caregivers will call Solon Community Living home.

Solon Community Living is a place for families which include an adult with a disability, an adult that needs to live on their own, but also needs support from a community of caregivers, aides and friends.

One such adult, Julie Sova, 46, shared with us her first viewing of her new apartment, located in the front of SCL, which includes a lovely front porch.

“I can’t wait to move in, and I can sit on my porch and watch the birds,” said Julie. “And I can bring my books, and it will be quiet and I will have a place to read,” she shared excitedly. She added that she plans to decorate her new home with a Paris, Eiffel Tower theme, something her mother Pat was also excited about. “You can fi nd so many things with Eiff el Towers” laughed her Mom, “and I think Julie has found them all.”

Across the way Joey Nook, 27, was also visiting his new digs for the fi rst time.

But Joey is most excited about the opportunity for an enhanced social life once he moves into SCL. “I am going to do so many activities here,” shared Joey. “And I can have people over to watch my NEW 63 INCH TV!” he said with a huge smile.

Joey’s parents Kate and Joe are excited that their son will have a group of friends to socialize with and his new location will allow him to walk to stores, shopping centers, and the library in Solon. “I am going to go to the library too,” shared Julie. Both new residents were planning to use their gift cards from Starbucks for their favorite drinks, at a location just down the road.

Solon Community Living, the brainchild of Ara and Leslie Bagdasarian, of Solon, was at fi rst a dream and a promise. The couple, who have two adult children with Fragile X syndrome, worried about what would happen to their children when their parents were no longer around. “It kept us awake at night, the worry about our children, and as we age that worry got more intense,” said Mr. Bagdasarian.

Joey Nook, a soon-to-be resident of Solon Community Living, shows off the test kitchen in the SCL community clubhouse. The test kitchen will be used for weekly resident meals and for expanding the residents’ cooking skills.

But he and his wife did not worry alone. They found other parents, whose adult children would also need support, and a planned living situation.

Over the past six years the Bagdasarians have brought others into their vision, including Solon Mayor Edward Kraus and the Solon City Council. The city passed a new zoning area that allowed SCL, which will eventually house 14 adults with disabilities, and onsite caregivers, who live above the residents in lovely apartments of their own, to be built at the corner of Aurora Road and Clearwater Court in the city.

The Solon residents supported SCL too, by an 83 percent voting majority, when the zoning change appeared on the city’s ballot.

The Bagdasarians worked to obtain grants from the county and from organizations for those with disabilities. They held fundraisers, educational sessions for parents, and with the help of numerous volunteers and board members over the past fi ve years, they were able to make their dream of SCL a reality.

But on this day, as the excited new residents looked around their new homes and community clubhouse, Mr. Bagdasarian, and the others on the tour, had to wipe a tear from their eyes. The excitement on the faces of the new residents was infectious.

“I am welcoming you to Solon Community Living,” said Joey Nook proudly. “This is where I am going to live.”

He opened the door to the clubhouse and showed off where the SCL residents will come together for games, movie watching and around a test kitchen. “We will have a community meal every week, where the residents will each have a role in preparing that meal,” said Logan Andress SCL’s community director. “We will use this meal as an opportunity to teach our residents some cooking skills, but also as a way for them to socialize with one another.”

Julie and Joey said they couldn’t wait for the fi rst community meal.

“When is the day? Mom, when is the day where I will live here for good?” asked Joey.

He added that his brother and sister were going to come for a sleepover once he moved in.

Julie said that she has an extra bedroom where her mom can stay “whenever she wants to.”

Over the past year, the families of the new residents have gotten to know one another, and share both triumphs and tribulations.

“Actually it’s a little bittersweet when I think of Julie leaving,” shared Pat Sova. “We have been married for 48 years and have had Julie with us for 46 of those, it will be our fi rst time as empty nesters.”

But as Julie looked around, getting more excited as she explored each little detail of her new home, the entire family took a deep cleansing breath.

“I know this will be good for her,” said Julie’s dad, Steve.

“This is a dream for us,” added Joey’s mom, Kate. “We looked everywhere to find the right fit for him, a place of his own where he would be accepted and supported.”

“And we found it,” laughed Joey.

For more information about SCL and possible residency, visit, or contact Logan Andress at [email protected].