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Janssen Family 1

Julie and Rich Janssen reminisce over a story the Mountain Journal wrote about their son, Jake, who has a severe form of autism. The Janssens started looking into creating their own group home for adults with autism after Jake was denied help from state health officials.

RONAN — A proposed home for adults with autism is $150,000 closer to reality.

A front-page article in the Sunday, June 17 issue of the Missoulian profiled Ronan parents Rich and Julie Janssen, whose 23-year-old son, Jake, has severe autism and other medical issues. After the state denied their request for financial aid to move Jake into a group home, they decided to start their own: Proactive Living Facility.

They expected the new facility’s costs would reach well into six-digit territory, but at the time, Julie Janssen said, “the funds have not come in yet.”

That’s changed. On Tuesday, an anonymous donor citing the article pledged $150,000 to the new home, to be paid through the Montana Community Foundation.

Rich Janssen, speaking with the Missoulian on Wednesday, summed up his reaction in three words: “Shock, joy, happiness.”

“It really reaffirmed my faith in humanity that there are people who care out there,” he said. “$150,000 three days after the article broke was pretty amazing.”

Mary Rutherford, President and CEO of the Montana Community Foundation, said that the donor or donors “were definitely moved by the story, moved by the need out there,” and that Proactive Living “aligned with their funding interests, and allowed them to meet this need.”

She said that the Foundation had performed a due-diligence examination of Proactive Living Facility, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The donation puts the group over the $100,000 it estimates will be needed for site acquisition. It projects $400,000 will be needed to either build or renovate a suitable facility.

Rich Janssen is eyeing several funding sources for the remainder, including other Montana charities, support from the state’s legislature and Congressional delegation, a Gofundme campaign, even help from Mattel, Inc., maker of the Thomas the Tank Engine toys that Jake loves.

As the Proactive Living board starts exploring these possibilities, this recent leap forward has them optimistic.

“I would love to say, ‘Thank you’” to the donor, Rich said. “We’re well on our way to being able to serve those adults with autism.”

To learn more about Proactive Living Facility, visit

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