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Facilitating transitions in Grass Valley

Paul Platner introduces his grandson Gage Masters to a pair of representatives from Ridgeline Pediatric during The Union's Meet Your Match job fair at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building earlier this year. Platner is now trying to establish a co-housing community of caregivers and care recipients in Grass VAlley.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

Adapting to changes in early adulthood can be difficult.

Just ask Paul Platner and his grandson, Gage Masters. Masters, a low functioning special needs student, will soon age out of Nevada Union’s NU Step program. At 22, he will need a place to live and something to do every day.

“How do we keep people like Gage part of the community and not isolated?” asked Platner. This was the question organizations at the fair were trying to help them answer, he said.



Thursday, a transition fair sought to ease things for Individualized Education Program students between the ages of 16 and 22.

But Platner isn’t just relying on what is available in Nevada County to aid him and Masters. He has personally been wrestling with ways to integrate caregivers and care recipients into stronger social networks. The grandfather hopes to start a co-housing community, where 20 to 60 families of caregivers and care recipients would live in a cluster of small homes surrounding a community center.



“It’s not a commune where it’s isolated,” said Platner. “It has to be part of the greater surrounding area because of jobs, because of healthcare, transportation and just wanting to be part of life.”

Co-housing community is currently just an idea. Platner is working to find enough interest in order to officially establish the community.

At the fair, the grandfather was trying to get Masters involved in organizations that promote his grandson’s autonomy, art work and boost his participation in volunteering activities.

A myriad of organizations were at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building to help special needs students find housing, jobs, job training, counseling and more. Representatives hailed from places like the Department of Rehabilitation, Alta Regional Center, Neighborhood Center for the Arts and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In the basement of the veteran’s building, Helena Heinzelman and Morgan Welty from the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools sat at a long table, their leaflets and fliers neatly organized.

Heinzelman and Welty were there to talk about a Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program, which helps individuals until the age of 25 in education, employment, permanency and well-being.

“In the past we have had many students with special needs use our services,” she said.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.


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