The History of Brookwood
“Like most things, Brookwood grew out of necessity.”
Our first resident enrolled in 1985. Today, more than one-hundred citizens live, in homes, on our 475-acre campus. Our citizens work in one or more of several on-site enterprises, exercise and play in the indoor swimming pool and gymnasium, celebrate the presence of God in our inter-faith worship center, and when necessary, receive care in our clinic.
Vicki Streit, the daughter of Brookwood’s founder and Executive Director Emeritus, Yvonne Tuttle Streit, had the mumps when she was only a year old. Complications arose and Vicki developed encephalitis and meningitis, which left her severely brain damaged.
The Streit family was very fortunate because Mrs. Streit’s father was on staff at Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, allowing access to many skilled physicians; however, after a period of time, the Streit’s realized the field of medicine had reached its limit. They then turned to the field of education in an attempt for Vicki to adapt within her abilities.
The Streit’s took Vicki to Purdue University, USC, and UCLA to learn how to teach necessary life skills. They presented the information gathered to school districts around Houston hoping they would incorporate the knowledge into their special education curriculum, but, the school districts were not interested.
Fortunately, Mrs. Streit had degrees in psychology and education. While Vicki was on a waiting list for public school, Mrs. Streit began home-schooling Vicki. They met a boy from Edna who had terrible seizures and a little girl from Alvin with similar functional disabilities. Together, they formed a learning group, around a picnic table, in Mrs. Streit’s backyard.
Soon, other children with special needs from the area joined this group. They outgrew the backyard and found it necessary move to a Baptist church, where the school quickly grew to several rooms within that facility. Eventually, with the help of a large grant, they built their own school building.
Most young people with functional disabilities think graduation from school is a “magic” day. They tend to think this because they have studied and worked hard and the diploma they earned is their key to success. But after graduation there are not many places adults with functional disabilities may work. It is a very sad situation.
Building a Sustainable Model
Realizing this need to provide lifelong special education, Mrs. Streit studied residential facilities in the United States and Europe taking a special interest in a community in Bethel, Germany. Bethel’s residents, adults with special needs, were receiving training and executing contract work for companies throughout the country.
People with disabilities, like all people, have a basic need to feel useful and feel they are contributing to the world. There is a real difference between sitting around the house in a wheelchair all day doing nothing and sitting in a wheelchair and making something of value for someone else to enjoy. At Bethel, this work fulfilled the need and their happiness showed; however, not everyone had a job.
Hence, The Brookwood Community was founded in 1985. It was built on 475 acres of rolling hills in Brookshire, Texas. Brookwood is a short distance from Houston and all the necessary amenities. In addition to its educational and enterprise programs, Brookwood provides a safe and nurturing home environment with proper nutrition, plenty of activity and productive challenges.