We celebrate neurodiversity at The Brookwood Community.
“Like most things, Brookwood grew out of necessity.”
Brookwood provides meaning and purpose in the lives of adults with disabilities. Our Citizens are the heart of Brookwood. Brookwood’s day program started in 1983, and our first residential Citizens joined in 1985. Today, more than 200 Citizens work in one or more of our enterprises at our main campus in Brookshire or one of our two satellite locations in Richmond, Texas and The Woodlands, Texas. Over 100 Residential Citizens live on our 485-acre campus and another 130 Day Citizens live at home and commute daily to work on campus. Our Citizens enjoy genuine fellowship, participate in fitness activities in our indoor swimming pool and gymnasium, celebrate the presence of God in our interfaith worship center, and when necessary, receive care in our onsite health 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 Streits 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 Streits took Vicki to Purdue University, USC, and UCLA to learn how to teach necessary life skills. They presented the information they 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 her. 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 the group. They outgrew the backyard and found it necessary move to a Baptist church, where the school quickly grew to several rooms within the 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 the 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.
From the beginning, Brookwood was founded on the American free enterprise system and does not take government funds. Our funding comes from tuition, enterprise revenue, and donations. We are committed to serving adults with disabilities from all economic backgrounds, and give extensive scholarship assistance.