We had the good fortune of connecting with David Buuck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
In 2012 the State of Indiana changed how they provide funding for people with intellectual disabilities. Before this time, families needed to wait about 10 years before their child could receive funding to move into a 24/7 residential setting. One family I knew waited 27 years due to a mishap involving lost paperwork. In 2012, the entire system changed. Now, for the vast majority of families, the parents of the adult child with a disability must turn 80 years old or pass away before their loved one can receive the necessary funding to move into a Medicaid waiver home. I was only able to hear distraught parents ask, “What’s going to happen to my child when I can no longer care for them or when I die?” so many times before realizing something had to be done. CASS Housing was born out of that place.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My early career was one failed job after another. Between June 2010 and February 2012, I had 5 jobs with (mostly) really poor management examples along the way. This was everything from working in the local parks department to being recruited for a startup nonprofit that was failing before we ever got there.
Between June 2010 and January 2019, we moved 10 times and had three kids along the way.
While CASS has experienced a string of success recently, it really have been within the last 2.5 years that things have been working out as opposed to the first 2 years of failure after failure, 3 years of incredibly difficult ground work learning about the systems that people with disabilities and their families face on the front lines, and then 3.5 years of doing the startup life of 80-100 hour weeks before seeing any type of significant progress.
The weight of the nonprofit is a weight that I don’t expect anyone else to carry. If CASS Housing fails, there are thousands of people with intellectual disabilities in Northeast Indiana that won’t be able to experience the life that they deserve to have. There are thousands of parents that will live with the question of, “What’s going to happen to my child when I pass away?” It is this reality that has driven me to put in over 30,000 hours of work to get to place.
CASS will succeed because we must succeed. There is no other option. And while we’ve been able to make some nice steps forward recently, we’re just getting started.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Fort Wayne, and Northeast Indiana, has really blossomed into a really special place. The local food game is spectacular.
Friday evening has to be spent downtown at any of the places that have opened up in the last few years-Mercado, Proximo, Tolon, or Nawa. Henry’s, JK O’Donnell’s, or any of the Fort Wayne breweries (or wineries if you want to go for a short drive) are great options to end the night. Whatever your taste or budget, there’s a spot.
On Saturday, we’ve got to spend some time on the 100+ miles of trails around our city, or experience the unique views of being on the three rivers that come together in The Summit City. Gotta grab a burger at Bravas. You’ll tell your grandchildren about it. To finish off the day, it’d be great to catch a comedy show or musical performance at the historic Embassy Theater.
On Sunday, coffee at Conjure or Fortezza is a must. A walk down to Promenade Park would be marvelous. From there, we could hit up Coney Island (a 100+ year old hot dog joint) before watching the Fort Wayne Tincaps (Minor League team for the San Diego Padres) play an evening at Parkview Field, consistently rated one of the best in the entire country,
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife, Amy.
We both had very influential grandparents and Amy and I spent a lot of time talking about legacy, not our own personal legacy, but the idea that we only have 1 life to live. Looking back, are we going to have regrets about doing or not doing something?
As we both got to know more individuals with disabilities and their families, it became clear that this was what our life and family would center around.
In Spring 2015 as the ideas surrounding CASS wouldn’t leave me alone, I told her late one night, “I think I need to quit my job and give this thing a shot?”
“Can we afford it?”
“I think so.”
“Then let’s do it.”