Jim’s Story – From an Institution to a Caring Community

Imagine being sent away from your family to live in an institution at the tender age of 4 or 5.

For Jim Forsythe, now 60, that was the sad reality for him and many other children with disabilities because families often had no other choices.

Jim sustained a disability at birth and was placed in an institution when he could no longer be cared for at home, said his brother Mike Cuppy. “I didn’t really have any interaction with Jim for many years,” added Mike, who is now his brother’s legal guardian.

Jim’s childhood in the institution was lonely and difficult. “Nobody taught him how to socialize,” said Jim’s sister-in-law Michele, adding he never went to school or learned to read or write. “He didn’t trust anybody,” she added. “It breaks my heart to know that he was that way for so long.”

When Jim was a teenager, he was moved from Cambridge to Faribault State Hospital. It was there that Mike and Michele began to visit him and would bring him home for holiday visits. In 1991 – when Jim was 28 – they finally were able to get him released and he moved to a group home in the Twin Cities. His life began to turn around.

Jim found community at Opportunity Partners-Karlins Center in Plymouth, where he thrives.

“Opportunity Partners has brought his personality out,” Mike said. “He feels comfortable and he feels loved. He can be himself. We saw the difference.”

Jim looks forward to going to OP every day where he has friends and goes for walks, visits the Animal Humane Society, and participates in “open mike” and other activities that keep him busy. “He loves all the staff and he’s confident with everyone there,” Michelle said. “He feels the love and the trust.”

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