Virginia Beach non-profit in final push before starting inclusive community for people with special needs

vanguard landing map.jpg
Posted at 3:54 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 17:25:51-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Tuesday, May 11 is Give Local 757 Day. It’s a campaign where many local non-profit organizations hope to gain the financial support of local residents within one day. One of those non-profits is Vanguard Landing.

Yet to be built, it’s an inclusive community that’s designed for those with intellectual and developmental differences. Their motto is: “Where exceptional people live exceptional lives.”

It will be constructed just off Princess Anne Road, at the edge of Pungo. The original farmhouse that’s still on the property will be turned into a restaurant. The development will also include housing, a fitness center, gardens and a variety of entertainment options like an equestrian facility.

“Vanguard Landing is going to be the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” stated Debbie Dear, Founder and Executive Director for Vanguard Landing. “What we are creating here is what they call an 'intentional community' - it is a 'live, work and recreate' community that focuses on the support needs of those with intellectual disabilities.”

Dear’s daughter Lindsey has intellectual disabilities, and Lindsey's development is what sparked the idea.

“I soon learned that there was a severe lack of opportunities for that population once they were out of school,” added Dear.

The project has been in the planning stages for close to 10 years. Dear says if it was all built at once, the estimated cost would be $40 million. She said they’ve raised enough money to secure financing, and they hope to break ground later this year.

Her daughter, Whitney Dear-Reyes, says they have more than 300 families applying to have family members live there once it’s built.

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“People are in love with it. People are excited. There is a major need for somewhere new and fresh to live, work and play,” Dear-Reyes explained.

Vanguard Landing directors tell News 3 that a generous donor has agreed to contribute $50,000 if they can raise that amount during the Give Local 757 Day on Tuesday. For more information on how to donate, click here.

Update on Wednesday, May 12: During Tuesday's 24-hour Give Local 757 event, Vanguard Landing reports that 802 donors helped raise more than $162,000 for Vanguard Landing.

Debbie Dear, Executive Director of Vanguard Landing, made the following statement: “We are overwhelmed at the generosity of all of the wonderful donors who continue to support us such as they did today for Give Local! Vanguard Landing is something that everyone can be proud of and support such as this is a clear indication that it is indeed “Time for Vanguard Landing!”