The Polus Center for Social and Economic Development has recently become a new provider agency in the Monadnock region. With more than 20 years experience in providing services and supports to people with disabilities in Massachusetts, the Polus Center exclusively uses a model they refer to as “shared living”.

The Polus Center helps to establish and support households where people with and without disabilities live in a mutually beneficial relationship based on respect and loyalty to one another. Shared living encourages each person to live a rich and meaningful life and promotes highly individualized supports rooted in relationships. Polus has been particularly effective and successful in the very careful way in which they match people together.

Michael Lundquist, Executive Director, who founded the agency, is frequently asked how his group finds people to share life in such a deep and meaningful way, forming relationships that in large part have spanned many years, often decades. He is careful to note that they do not find people via newspaper ads; he calls that approach “...looking for love in all the wrong places.” Instead, they rely on a very methodical approach of networking coupled with an extensive interview process which can often take several months to a year. The fruits of this process are evident in the quality of relationships in the 40 households they currently support in Massachusetts.

In conjunction with MDS, the Polus Center will be sponsoring several forums this coming year where people can share thoughts and ideas about shared living and explore some of the deeper questions of service provision. People who have been involved in sharing life will be invited to come and present their experiences.

At a recent forum in Peterborough, several people from shared living households spoke of how they came to live together and what it meant for each of them. An audience of 30 families, citizens and human service staff attended. Most striking about this evening were the stories shared by people who lived together, the abundant evidence that people with disabilities were indeed part of families where they were loved, where the distinction between “staff” and “client” was non-existent, where people with disabilities were truly experiencing “home.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Polus Center, you can visit their website, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information on the next forum, to be scheduled for some time in late summer.