The ASPIRE story began with George, an 80-year-old adult who has autism. George comes from a large Italian American family. George’s father, Frank, died on September 25th, 2012, four months shy of his 100th birthday. It was shortly after his death that Bob got a call from a St. Petersburg attorney telling him that George’s father had made him a trustee to care for George and his mother who has since attained the age of 103.
Bob was honored, took on the challenge, and began to care for them as his uncle wished. Because George was on the autism spectrum, Bob proceeded to learn about autism and the ASD community. Soon Bob realized that when young adults with autism age out of the education system, they begin to seek a sense of independence. Because of this, both the parents and the young adults begin to encounter a new set of dynamics involving job training, routine treatments, medical needs, social skills training, and ultimately housing that can provide independence.
Throughout his childhood, there was no place for George or his parents seek developmental assistance, so he remained under his families’ care for his entire life. In the 1940s and 50s there was virtually no knowledge of autism, therefore there were no early development classes, training, or understanding of how to adapt to these unique and often talented adults to the real world. As Bob started to plan for George’s future care, it became apparent that there were several housing options but none of them were appealing. After realizing a tremendous need, Bob envisioned bringing his 38-year real estate experience and talents to create a place where young active adults could thrive and ASPIRE to be the best they could be.