LEESBURG, Fla. – A couple from Lake County is using their business to mentor men in their community with special needs.
Jalaneia and Terence Guions run a family group home in Leesburg called Guions Behavioral Services. They serve men from all walks of life many of them, they say, have behavioral issues and require special attention.
“It’s something I’ve always had a passion for,” said Jalaneia Guions.
“Sometimes people look at them and judge them right off the back,” said Terence Guions. “We want to make sure they feel included, and they feel like they are able to be apart of the community.”
The Guions focus their group home on inclusion and teach the men life and job skills, how to work with computers and even how to manage their finances.
“Me, as a father of an autistic child, I want to know that it feels like home, and I want him to be taken care of,” said Terence Guions.
Terence Guions, who is fully trained in sign language, works to makes sure a man in their group home, who is nonverbal, doesn’t feel left out. In fact, the Guions said they plan to soon open an entirely deaf group home in Umatilla.
“In previous group homes, he didn’t really have anyone to sign with him all the time, so for someone on the daily basis who can communicate with his language, I’ve seen growth and I’ve seen him reach goals that I didn’t think was possible,” said Terence Guions.
“It really melts my heart when I see them smile, just because they learned a new task,” said Jalaneia Guions.
When the couple isn’t mentoring the men at the group home, they’re also providing hope and healing to girls and women through a nonprofit called Hope With a Purpose. Jalaneia Guions plays a big role in the nonprofit and uses her story to inspire others.
“I had my personal struggles, I’ve gone through things in life,” said Jalaneia Guions.
She has a message for all the girls she mentors: “Continue to be you, you’re black, you’re beautiful, it doesn’t matter really what color you are. Just be you and be happy. Stand up, stand firm.”
The nonprofit also regularly helps women in the community who are struggling with drug abuse, homelessness and other issues.