PHOTO: Randy Elliott, BrightStone’s director of advancement, was one of several speakers during the nonprofit’s groundbreaking ceremony Saturday. / Photos by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
The local organization BrightStone held a celebration Saturday that commemorated both its past and its future as hundreds turned out for a groundbreaking on the nonprofit’s planned 138-acre campus located just south of Franklin off Highway 31.
Known as Land of Dreams, the project will ultimately be built out to serve 120 adults with intellectual disabilities through its day program and another 80 with supervised student housing. The $28 million development will happen in three phases, with work on the first to start in a few months.
Saturday’s celebration, which featured a barbecue lunch, music and a recognition of donors, board members, volunteers and companies involved in the development of the new campus, appropriately fell on BrightStone’s 20-year anniversary. The nonprofit is a homegrown organization that supports adults with intellectual disabilities with training and education, activities, job training, fellowship and companionship.
“I think this day starts the future,” said BrightStone Executive Director Brenda Hauk, who founded the organization in 1999 with four students, a volunteer staff and space at what is now Church of the City. “We’ve been lovingly blessed by a day program that all of these students participate in. But there’s not a place for them to live, there’s not a place for them to go if parents can no longer care for them. And some have told us they just want to move out and have a life of their own and be a typical American adult.”
She continued, “And that’s what this campus can provide in student housing. We’re going to continue a day program so we will still have job training, job experience, job placement, and we’re going to broaden that to an educational format so they can continue learning in life, reading, writing, arithmetic, all of that to their highest level of potential.”
At $12 million, phase one of the BrightStone campus will include the 138-acre site development, a land purchase loan payoff, a job training and learning center, and two student homes. It is expected to be completed by November 2020. Phase two, at $10 million, will feature additional student homes, as well as a “cafetorium,” a horticulture center, a health center, a community recreation center and a campus store.
Phase three, estimated to cost $6 million, will include the last of student homes, an administration building, an equestrian center, a gymnasium and therapeutic aquatic center, and a chapel.
Hauk, who spoke at the celebration along with Randy Elliott, BrighStone’s director of advancement, and Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, said the new campus is something the community at large can take pride in.
“The support from this community is not only vital, it’s exceptional,” she said after ground was broken by several dignitaries and supporters. “We’re so proud that this community embraces these that learn differently and that they don’t shun them. They’re not putting them in a far corner and ignoring them. … They’re excited that this county, this Middle Tennessee area, is going to provide something of high quality. We want this community to be able to drive by and be excited about what they see.”