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attained: She recently interviewed and was offered a position at TJ Maxx department store. She comes home to visit her family on the island every couple of weeks, saying she misses being able to ride around town in the golf cart with her dog. Koci has been with the organization since 2011. She started out as a grant proposal writer and quickly worked her way up to CEO. The 28-year-old has earned a bachelor from Colgate University and a master degree from the University of Central Florida. Impressively intelligent, the young president of the non-profit organization chose this career path because of a personal matter within her own family. “I have an aunt who is developmentally disabled and she was treated like a burden. I watched my mother act as her primary caretaker and there was never any conversation about it. So finding an organization like this was the perfect match for me personally," she said. Every person served is aged out of the public education system leaving a gap that Loveland can fill. Most students typically start at age 18 to 22. You do not have to be a Florida resident to participate in programs available. The center is located at 157 South Havana Road in Venice. Students and families interested in learning more can call (941)493-0016 for more information on the application process or visit lovelandcenter.org G M Programs offered include adult day training in an art studio, computer room and social activities inside a recently built clubhouse that holds up to 300 people. The Phase 2 program developed in 2007 was specifically designed to better serve students who are challenged by autism or early onset Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. March/April 2017 GASPARILLA ISLAND 65 "We realized that this is the first generation of adults with developmental disabilities who could outlive their parents or the parents’ ability to be a caregiver. People were being displaced when the parents passed away and the individual would go live with another family member. Many of them would end up coming back because the other family members couldn't handle being caregivers," Koci said. That's when the concept of growing into a village started. In 2007, leaders at the organization realized they needed to provide an affordable and supportive, safe community for those they served. “In 2013 we were awarded a grant from the state of Florida and along with a few forgivable loans and a fundraising campaign, the organization secured the $12 million needed to complete the housing project. The complex was built on donated land in Venice,” Koci said. The campus offers quite a range of services for individuals who live there. Some have caretakers and some live independently. There is a security guard onsite for the protection of the residents. In 2015 the organization acquired 8 more acres of foreclosed land and administrators are in the process of determining what they will do with the property. Natalie Spurgeon grew up in Boca Grande and moved to Loveland Village this past July. She is absolutely thriving there, participating in social activities and taking art and Spanish classes. She's also learning to cook and has been enjoying preparing different kinds of meals. "I love in here. There is so much to do and I've met some really nice people," Natalie said. When she first moved to Loveland, she said her goal was to eventually find a job. Goal


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