After a long search, Randy Larson looks over the new home for what will be the Glenwood Housing facility living apartments for special needs adults. A benefit auction is planned. The facility was a former assisted living retirement home. (DON LEACH, Coastline Pilot / April 21, 2011)

Randy Larson has always wanted the most for his son Trevor.

When Trevor was a child, Larson made sure to have activities for him and tried to create a good network of friends.

This might seem like the normal plan for any parent but for Larson it was especially important. Trevor, now 28, has Down syndrome.

When Trevor was growing up, Larson partnered up with local parents, creating sports teams for their special-needs kids. He has coached them in baseball, basketball and soccer for 23 years.

As his son grew up, Larson realized the importance of social interaction in his life.

Larson started the Lighthouse Group in 2003. They bring together a group of special-needs adults to go on outings in the community, like seeing movies, grabbing dinner, going to the beach or getting coffee at Starbucks. They also host a yearly summer camp at Shaver Lake in Sierra Nevada.

Every year he would send a survey to the parents of the adults in the group and one year he got an overwhelming response from parents. After three parents had near-death experiences, they all had one question: Who would raise my child if something happened to me?

"We're all getting older and we need to think what could happen to us," he said.

He's hoping that Glennwood Housing, which he aims to open in Laguna Beach next spring, will ease the transition for their children into adulthood. A stone's throw from the beach and complete with every amenity, the facility will house 50 special-needs adults.

Larson and his team showed the development to the City Council in April 2010 and were pleasantly surprised by the response.

"We were totally blown away," he said. "Laguna has really embraced us."

Unlike some facilities that separate the adults, having them lead essentially independent lives, Larson wants Glennwood to offer its residents friendship, activities and the opportunity to grow as individuals.

"They want to be like their siblings or their peers as best they can and be accepted in the community," he said. "I believe this will be a benchmark for the future."

Glennwood Housing Foundation is hosting A Home of Their Own to raise money for renovation costs. The property has been closed for three years and needs various upgrades before the residents can move in.

Artist Vinita Voogd, a Festival of the Arts regular, is co-chairing the auction. The day includes drinks, appetizers and live music by the Saddleback College Jazz Ensemble.

"I'm very excited about the auction," she said. "People can get really good art for a great price and help support Glennwood at the same time. We couldn't do this without the help of the artist community."

Voogd met Larson through her husband, Maarten, who coached sports alongside Larsen and is now a board member for Glennwood. Her daughter, Lauren, has neurological problems due to a cancerous brain tumor she had as an infant.

Now 26, Lauren has cognitive delays and physical problems but is highly functioning, enjoying an active life and a job at Cox Communications.

She grew up knowing many of the adults who will most likely live in Glennwood and Voogd thinks the project is a special one.

"It's important for these families to have support," she said.

For more information, visit GlennwoodHousing.org.

If You Go

What: A Home Of Their Own art auction featuring artwork by Tom Swimm, Tom Lamb, Anne England, Kathy Jones and more

When: 2 to 5 p.m. April 30

Where: 2130 S. Coast Hwy.