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The Mountain Shadows Story

It all started with a chicken ranch and a dream.

Back in 1984, Jim Hooyenga and Don Nydam embarked on a journey to establish a community where individuals with intellectual disabilities could not only live, but thrive. Today, their dream is a reality for the 171 intellectually disabled persons who now call Mountain Shadows home.

Inspired by the Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled Habilitative (ICF/DD-H) model that was emerging at the time, Jim and Don set out to find the ideal location upon which to build the foundation of their dream. The perfect site was discovered nestled within the foothills of San Diego’s North County – a flourishing 5 ½ acre chicken ranch and avocado grove in the heart of Escondido.

Mountain Shadows Community Homes – San Diego now sits on those 5 ½ sprawling acres and is home to 105 intellectually disabled adult residents. Consisting of sixteen individually licensed homes, the MSCH campus fosters a family-like environment to encourage the growth and independence of its residents.

In 1990 MSCH was purchased by Doug Cook, whose son Brian lived at MSCH, and a small group of interested parties known as Mountain Shadows, Inc., where the model for today’s operations was established. Three additional community-based homes located in San Marcos were acquired where 18 more adult residents now live. In 2002, the Mountain Shadows Support Group (MSSG) purchased MSCH and transitioned into a non-profit, 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation.

Shortly thereafter, MSSG acquired its first bus via a State of California Department of Transportation grant process for its Transportation Program, transporting residents to and from their day program sites during the weekdays, and activities and other social events after hours and on weekends. Today the Transportation Program is comprised of 20 buses and transports daily 85 plus residents.


In 2006, to advance their public benefit mission, and standing as an industry leader in the development of the community-based continuum of care concept, MSSG acquired two Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled – Nursing (ICF/DD-N) organizations (Special Care Children’s Homes and C&C Kids Kompany), and combined them into one, Mountain Shadows Community Homes — Riverside.

MSCH provides care to infants, children and adolescents and is comprised of 8 residential homes individually situated within family neighborhoods in the Jurupa Valley area of Riverside serving 48 residents.

To further broaden the scope of its support efforts, MSSG launched its day program, Mountain Shadows Outreach Services (MSOS) in 2007. MSOS provides enrichment programs to expand life, leisure and vocational skills and opportunities for over 100 intellectually disabled adults.

The MSSG community-based environment enriches the lives of our residents by facilitating active socialization with other residents, staff and community members. As vital members of our surrounding communities, we also contribute to the socio-economic stability of the North County San Diego and Riverside.

From chicken ranch to vibrant community comprised of twenty-seven homes, serving 171 residents and consumers, and providing work for a staff of more than 400 employees in two Southern California counties – now we’d say that’s something to cackle about.

Our Board of Directors

MSSG Board.jpg

Mountain Shadows is proud to have the following individuals serving on its Board of Directors. These Directors are an exemplary cross section of community and industry leaders who selflessly volunteer their time and are committed to the mission of Mountain Shadows.

Steve Cassidy, Chair
Taygran, Inc.
James Swartout, Director
Certified Public Accountant
Considine & Considine
Stacy Sullivan
Director of Operations
Mountain Shadows Support Group
Jeff Mohnhaupt, Vice-Chair
Hopper Systems, Inc.
James Arom, Director
Mountain Shadows Community Homes – San Diego
Wade Wilde
Executive Director/CFO
Mountain Shadows Support Group
Mountain Shadows Ancillary Services
Mountain Shadows Foundation
Carol Haskin, Secretary
Mountain Shadows Community Homes – San Diego
James Schimd, Director
Allergan, LLC
Erick Altona
Loundbery Ferguson Altona & Peak, LLP
Robert Chakarian, Treasurer
Chakarian & Chakarian
David Erickson, Director
Occupational Therapist
John Martindale, Director
Alisa Capital, Inc
Ravindra Rao M.D., Director
Loma Linda Medical Center

Friends of MSSG

Our community supporters are deeply appreciated for all their time volunteered to MSSG. We thank our friends for their continued support.




Individual community supporters are at the heart of MSSG. We would like to thank the following individuals for their continued donations.


A dedication to helping others in their community is what brought biggs Harley-Davidson Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Howie Wahl, to Mountain Shadows. “We are committed to being actively involved in our local community. It so happens that Mountain Shadows is right across the street from Biggs Harley Davidson.” I noticed the Mountain Shadows buses coming and going every day. I had no idea what Mountain Shadows was, so I walked across the street to find out. As I toured the facility, my head started thinking, What a great place! “These people are angels on earth.” Then I said to myself,”Perfect! Mountain Shadows needs funds. We want to help local organizations. Let’s have a Ride for Autism!”




A great supporter of MSF, Susan has donated numerous pieces of original artwork to the annual golf tournaments. In addition to being a great support, Susan believes that Mountain Shadows has and will continue to provide her daughter Kristen the best possible place to live. Susan and Kristen have been a part of the Mountain Shadows family for over 20 years. For more information about Susan Weller and her artwork please visit her at




Business Supporters

Thank You to our business supporters! MSSG would like to thank all the following business for their continued support to our organization.

What is an Intellectual Disability?

An individual is considered to have an intellectual disability if they meet the following:
1) Intellectual functioning level (IQ) is below 70-75.
2) Significant limitations exist in two or more adaptive areas.
3) The condition is present from childhood or diagnosed by the age of 18.

What adaptive skills are needed for functioning?

Adaptive skills are those needed to live, work, and function in the community. These include: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, leisure, health and safety, self-direction, functional academics, community use, and work. These are assessed in the person’s typical environment across all aspects of an individual’s life.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, call Mountain Shadows at (760)743-3714. We will be available to answer any of your questions regarding any related topic. Also, please refer to the following links which refer you to other useful sites.

How does Mountain Shadows help people with intellectual disabilities live in a normal home setting, work regular jobs and go to school?

Mountain Shadows is a community of homes designed to provide a normal family-like living environment for individuals with intellectual disabilities. This environment facilitates and encourages the residents to learn the many activities of daily living skills needed to maintain and live in a home. Almost all people with intellectual disabilities are capable of working part time or full time in regular jobs, participate in day programs or attend school.

Online Resources