CH parent develops free service to connect special needs adults
Craig Matis has lived in Cleveland Heights for nearly 40 years. The father of an adult son with special needs, Matis discovered that, once his son left school, the effort to socialize with others was difficult for him. He found that other parents shared his concerns—that outside of an academic environment, it was difficult for those with special needs to find and develop connections with others.
In 2013, Matis initiated Connect to One (www.connectcle.org), an online service that matches up those who are disabled, both mentally and physically, and seeking one-on-one friendships and/or relationships. Despite the significant growth, over the past 30 years or so, of social programs and activities that address the special needs population, the majority focus on group events, rather than on the development of one-on-one relationships.
Connect to One operates a private and secure database that enables individuals to create their own profiles and browse the site's directory for those with similar interests and lifestyles.
After a new registrant's online application has been reviewed and verified, Matis schedules a face-to-face meeting. After that initial meeting, the new member is able to access the website's directory, which has all of the members posted. The directory is password-protected, so only authorized members can view the information. Each member can view the directory at any time, and request a meeting with someone from the site. Matis will then arrange the meeting between the two parties.
The service is free to adults (18 years and older). Anyone who lives in a group home, with parents, or independently is welcome to participate.
Denise Walters, a friend of Matis, has lived in Cleveland Heights for nearly 10 years.