Ohio School for the Deaf Alumni Association (OSDAA) was established in 1870, it is the oldest alumni association in the nation, even the oldest of any kind or higher education schools. The active membership is composed of former students and graduates of the Ohio School for the Deaf. Its Board of Governors is elected from the membership. OSDAA has a reunion every two years. The turnout is usually very good, several hundred. We have panoramic pictures taken at the entrance of the old school for the deaf on Washington and Town Streets.
During one of the early reunions, one member shared his concerns for the elderly deaf that were living in county homes spread all across Ohio. They didn't have access to church services, social involvement or even good communication. They were living in isolation. At the 7th reunion this issue was brought up and it was proposed that a home for deaf elderly should be established, where they could enjoy living in a deaf community, where communication and socialization are accessible. A committee was set up at that time.
The committee was comprised of: Robert Patterson, principal of OSD; Robert MacGregor, high school teacher at OSD; A.B. Greener; Albert Schory; W. Zorn and C.W. Charles among others. Robert MacGregor was helping to establish the National Association of the Deaf in 1880 and became the first president of NAD. it was time to begin raising money. OSDAA donated $500 and many different organizations and individuals gave as well.
In 1892, Central College Presbyterian was in debt for taxes, the trustees decided to dispose of the property and sold it to OSDAA for $3,300.00 which was a real bargain for a building and 15 acres. The Ohio Home for the Aged and Infirm Deaf (OHAD) opened on December 12, 1896. Later, another 156 acres was purchased and it became a self-sustaining general farm with livestock and crops.
The residents worked the farm to help keep OHAD rolling. OSD students also helped with the farm. They would take the trolley and the hay wagons to the farm and the boys harvested crops while the girls canned food and sewed clothes. Several times a year on Sundays, the OSD students would pay ten cents for a show and the funds went to pay the utility bills.
In 1922, Wornstaff Hall was opened to house the men; it cost $26,662.00. The Fairchild Building was used for the women. The Fairchild Building was the original building bought with the property and was named after the only student who graduated from the college. In 1955, a 29 bed skilled care nursing home opened. At this time the State Board of Health stopped all resident labor so the farm was shut down and OHAD depended on welfare to keep running.
The state then passed a law requiring all nursing homes and homes for the elderly to meet new fire code. OHAD could not meet the updated code as the roof was wood, the halls and doorways were too narrow and a water sprinkler system needed to be installed. It was not feasible to alter the size and structure of the buildings. At that time, the board decided to develop a new location.
The White House Conference for Aging suggested that we go through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to finance our project. Some of the board members were hesitant to go with HUD as they would lose some control and have to abide by their rules. The board ultimately decided to get funds to build a new place through HUD. The ground-breaking ceremonies for Columbus Colony Housing (CCH) and Columbus Colony Elderly Care (CCEC) took place in 1979. Both buildings were designed for the needs of deaf elderly, multi-handicapped and deaf-blind people. CCH consists of 106 independent living apartments. One apartment is occupied by the resident manager and twelve units are equipped for wheelchair accessibility. CCEC is a skilled care nursing home licensed by the state, making it eligible for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. CCEC continued to grow and ,in 1994, fifty beds were added making a total of 150 beds. In 2002, Columbus Colony Housing II (CCH II) opened with 49 more units. CCH II has a Multi-Purpose Room which holds 200 people. This room is used every other week for residents to play Dingo and other activities throughout the year for resident togetherness and enjoyment of life.
CCH I and II are both Section 202 programs, Supportive Housing for the Elderly, HUD form 92015, application for capital funds. The requirements that must be met to apply for funds are: nonprofit organization (sponsored by Ohio School for the Deaf Alumni Association), Articles of Incorporation, bylaws and constitution, IRS tax exemption, sponsors conflict of interest resolution and board members' social security numbers, addresses and that board members are free from convictions. Also needed is land for the building, deed, option, and permissive zoning. The need must be established for the area.