Siblings eager to open Hewuse Family Homes
Living an independent adult life is something many people take for granted.
Siblings Trey and Tia Hewuse know from firsthand experience the daily living obstacles those with developmental disabilities face as adults. Their sister Cassie, born with intellectual disabilities, struggles with many adult skills some may take for granted.
That insight is motivation driving the siblings to start Hewuse Family Homes, LLC in the house they were raised south of Tomah.
"We started this business for Cassie," Tia said.
Cassie's siblings were concerned about her care when Cassie wanted to move out of their parents' (Fran and Tammy) home. The solution, open a group home where Cassie and other young adults with disabilities have a safe and loving place to live. They are making it their career mission to fill that need.
Tia and Trey are Tomah High School alumni, lived here all our lives, until departing for college. Tia attended Webster University in St. Louis, MO and earned Bachelor’s in Art for Media Communication.
She was commissioned an officer in the Air Force after college and lived all over the country and world.
Tia recently returned from being stationed in South Korea. She is currently stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and is transitioning from active duty into the Reserves in August to focus on their business.
Trey attended UW-Stout and earned a bachelor’s degree in special education. He taught at THS three years after college.
Both are confident in the path they have chosen. The home, located in an ideal rural setting outside Tomah, will offer adults with disabilities a safe place to live as independently as possible. Hewuse Family Homes is set to open in September. Between four to six residents will live in the home at any given time. The group home is open to adults with developmental disabilities. All residents will have 24/7 care, weekly group activities, family-style meals, and transportation to appointments, events, and jobs.
Each resident will have their own room in the large country house. The downstairs features a common living area where residents enjoy family-style meals and a variety of activities throughout the week.
Residents are provided transportation to all activities or have transportation arranged for them. Residents will be aided in all aspects of daily living as needed. Employees will encourage residents to be as independent as possible by preparing their own/group meals, civic responsibilities, employment, exercise, etc.
Tia credits Trey for his role in their decision.
"My brother is the one with the patient and caring heart to really manage the home, employees and our residents," Tia said. I will mainly be the business manager."
Tia has a master's degree in science in entrepreneurship and always wanted to own a business.
"When we realized our sister was ready to transition to more independent living it just seemed like God was showing us that we had all the pieces of the puzzle. We just needed to put it together," Tia said. "Our parents were willing to downsize and sell us our big beautiful seven bedroom home with most of the furniture and appliances we needed to start up."
Trey said he discovered a preference in group home work versus teaching. Trey's wife, Gina, is onboard with the idea, he adds. While she won't be working in the home her counsel as a CNA is a bonus, Trey said.
"When I was going through college I worked at a group home and really enjoyed working there," Trey said. "I always thought that it would be fun to work in a group home full time. When our sister Cassie started to look for a group home to live we decided to make a group home that fits her needs and the needs of others with similar disabilities."
The siblings discovered the countless hurdles of starting a business, one being capital.
"Our main challenges are financial," Tia said. It takes a lot of money to start a new business. Every permit we need has a fee."
They need to build an emergency exit from the second story of the house. The septic system needs a bigger tank, "plus a whole lot of other things we need to purchase before we open," Tia said.
With that said, Tia adds, "We have been extremely blessed by startup donations to our GoFundMe account, which will go a long way to helping us start this business successfully."
That account is https://gofund.me/e928a0fd for the GoFundMe page for more information.
The sibs lean on their strong faith as the business evolves.
"Our mission at Hewuse Family Homes is to provide a safe and caring home for adults with developmental disabilities," Tia said. "With our faith in Jesus Christ, we aim to stay a positive force in our community and give our residents opportunities for independence, education and self-fulfillment. Tomah was an amazing place to grow up. Trey and I now have an opportunity to give back to a community that gave us so much. We want to see our community thrive and encourage our residents to be contributing members of society."
Trey said, "It is a beautiful old country house surrounded by corn fields (of course). We have three apple trees and a huge garden. A place to play basketball and plenty of land for all sorts of fun outdoor activities. We are so happy to keep this home in our family and put it to such good use. Taking care of our family is so important to us and we are so thankful that we will be able to take care of so many more very soon."
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