60th Anniversary Celebrations

Marbridge marks 60th year with two gala events

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Betsy was one of many residents who received certificates of recognition at the morning event on May 31. The Marbridge choir and selected staff members performed “Music Through the Ages,” a musical tribute to the six decades of our community’s existence. Will Hoermann, director of The Village, presented the award.

The Marbridge Community celebrated its 60th year of existence on May 31, 2013, with a resident and staff musical performance to commemorate the six decades of its history. The morning event was held in the campus outdoor amphitheater, and a separate evening event featured a meldley of great American standards sung by the Marbridge Men’s Choir. A symbolic dove release followed the program to honor the six decades that Marbridge has provided care to adults with intellectual disabilities.

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“We have devoted part of our year to celebrating the memories of the past and to honoring our founders, Ed and Marge Bridges, and to inviting people to come visit and experience the fulfilling life we offer to adults with intellectual disabilities,” said James Stacey, president.

The Bridges founded Marbridge on June 1, 1953, to provide an alternative to institutional care for their only child, Jim, who had intellectual disabilities. The Bridges were well known in the Austin community at the time. They operated the Bridges Furniture Store on Congress Avenue downtown for 20 years. The couple closed the store in 1968 in order to focus on Marbridge full time.

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In 1952, the Bridges purchased a small ranch house and 80 acres in the Manchaca community, then a rural area of Travis County. It provided a home for Jim and six other young men with cognitive challenges and still stands in the center of the now 170-acre campus today. Jim Bridges, the last of the founding family members to reside in the community, passed away in 2006. Today, more than a dozen residents have lived at Marbridge for 25 years or longer, and five have lived in the community for more than 40 years.

“Back in the 1950s, the establishment of a community like Marbridge represented a new vision for adults with intellectual disabilities,” said Stacey. “Many people doubted they could succeed, but the Bridges were determined that Jim, and other adults like him, would have a place of love and dignity where they could live their lives to the fullest. The Bridges’ dedication to adults with intellectual disabilities was born of both courage and faith.”

Marbridge has grown far beyond its modest beginnings and now includes three care centers, based on level of dependence, that serve more than 230 adults with a wide range of intellectual and physical disabilities. Nearly 200 people work for Marbridge, making it one of the largest employers in the southwest Austin area.

In addition to residential care centers, the campus includes classroom buildings for the community’s highly developed training program, which integrates education, employment, socialization, recreation and independent living skills. Marbridge also provides its residents enrichment programs such as art therapy, horticulture therapy and equine therapy.

Additionally, Marbridge provides skilled nursing care through its Villa Skilled Nursing Center and The Bridges Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, both of which provide nursing care to the general public, in addition to Marbridge residents.
“We are an excellent nursing care resource for people in the southwest Austin, Manchaca, Buda and Kyle areas,” said Stacey. The Bridges includes a 1,200-square-foot rehabilitation center to assist patients recovering from hospital stays involving stroke, heart attack and surgery. With an eight-bed capacity, it provides a comfortable, homelike environment in a pastoral setting.

“Helping adults with intellectual disabilities reach their highest potential is our true mission,” said Stacey. “We extend an open invitation to people who are interested in the well being of adults with cognitive challenges to come to Marbridge and see how we focus on abilities, not disabilities. In the process, we hope to change attitudes about adults with intellectual disabilities.”

To make visits quick and convenient, Marbridge hosts a one-hour information session and short tour on the second Thursday of each month. Called JAM Sessions— meaning “Just About Marbridge,” the event includes a short history and an
overview of the organization’s mission as well as information about life at Marbridge as told by residents, volunteers, board members and staff.

To reserve a spot at an upcoming JAM Session, or to inquire about admissions criteria, call 512-282-1144, or visit www.marbridge.org. You may also learn more about Marbridge on Facebook.

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