Back in the early 1980s, OPTIONS founder Mike Mamot was working as a Special Education Teacher for the Paso Robles, California School District. His work with special needs students in district schools brought him into contact with young people who were struggling in school because of severe behavior problems and inadequate social skills. As he came to know these young people better, he found that many of them lived in homes where there was little love, support, or guidance. Most lived with families that were ill-prepared to deal with the unique problems presented by their special needs children and were desperately seeking outside assistance. Mike dreamed of opening a small group home where these kids could grow and flourish in a caring, supportive environment.
Mike first realized his dream in 1984, when he purchased a comfortable ranch house with some acreage nestled in the oak-covered, green hills west of Atascadero. He named the house and its surrounding property “Oak Tree Ranch”. Mike then hired a small but dedicated staff and Oak Tree Ranch was licensed as a Community Care Facility by the State of California. Six area young people moved into Oak Tree Ranch and the organization that is now known as OPTIONS was born.
Although the organization that Mike started in 1984 has gone through many changes – in name, location, and primary focus – its core philosophy has never wavered: with respect and support, people with disabilities can achieve their goals of living and working independently as full citizens of their communities.
Nearly all of those first six residents of Oak Tree Ranch went on to graduate from high school and realize their goals of independence. Through the years, OPTIONS has helped several hundred individuals with varying challenges realize their dreams and achieve full inclusion in their communities. We are now expanding our services and establishing new service priorities to meet the needs of a changing population.