Special Feature: Ohio’s DD Community Gives Thanks

Note:  Additional photos illustrating the items below can be viewed in the complete issue, as delivered with your Constant Contact email.

Thankful for Families – A Message from Director Martin

“The Family is at the core of all we do – it is a person’s first community.” I shared this thought at a DODD Central Office staff meeting earlier this year, and was thinking about it again this week as we all prepare for Thanksgiving. It’s a good time to remember that all families are not traditional families. Not all families have two parents and only their own children living in the home. There are many families comprised of people who take others into their homes who are not related to them, including persons with developmental disabilities. This arrangement we now call Ohio Shared Living is working for many families, and providing stability for individuals served. There also are many families who have developed an extended network of relatives and friends who can help provide respite, to provide a loving and safe environment when needed. And, there are service providers who are thought of as family, and care every bit as much. As I think about Ohio’s developmental disabilities community, and the many families we depend upon as the backbone of our service delivery system, I deeply appreciate that commitment — and the wonderful, warm, and nurturing environments each of you create. –John Martin

Thankful for Active Advocacy Leadership Network

Logan Brinson, HCDDS self advocate, with Probate Judge Candidate Charlie Luken at the recent Advocacy Leadership Network public election forum.

Logan Brinson, HCDDS self advocate, with Probate Judge Candidate Charlie Luken at the recent Advocacy Leadership Network public election forum.

Hamilton County DD Services noted that candidates for local and state offices on the November ballot flooded their office last month, during the agency’s annual public election forum hosted by self advocates who comprise the Advocacy Leadership Network (ALN) of Hamilton County. ALN members were thankful for the excellent turnout, with 18 candidates and 75 audience members — the most well-attended election forum ever for the organization. Attendees included candidates for state representative, county commissioner, auditor, and various judge seats – as well as speakers for ballot issues. HCDDS Superintendent Alice Pavey noted, “Candidates attended because they were invited by an ALN member they know, which shows the value of the many years of advocacy and relationship-building by our local ALN members. We truly are thankful for this positive response to self advocates’ work in the political process.”

Thankful for Great Volunteers

The Butler County Board of DD is thankful for their growing group of volunteers, organized through the FANS Network (Friends, Allies, and Neighbors) of Butler County.  Tim Hessling is one of their awesome volunteers, and has provided expert handyman help along with countless volunteer hours helping individuals with disabilities and their families with all kinds of home repair and improvement projects.  In Butler County, they are thankful for volunteers like Tim, and his wonderful heart of service. (See photo in complete issue.)

Thankful for Music Therapy Programs at New Avenues

New Avenues to Independence is thankful for the William M. Weiss Foundation, for their generous support of the agency’s Music Therapy program. The Foundation has provided financial assistance to this program since the 1990s, demonstrating support for the therapeutic value of music in the lives of the many children and adults served by the agency. Nearly 90 men and women received music therapy services at New Avenues over the past year, due to the Foundation’s support. The sessions are an opportunity for participants to develop social and verbal skills, improve attention to tasks, and improve gross and fine motor skills in a positive, structured environment. This year, a group was formed for participants to learn basic guitar skills, and another group was formed to discuss lyrics and music sharing. The group activities enable them to learn together in a positive social setting, with music enjoyment as the common factor that all members share.

Thankful for New Residential Options at SODC

Southwest Ohio Developmental Center (SODC) Superintendent Scott McVey shares his thoughts: “This month, I find myself being thankful for many things, however it’s easy to identify one thing in particular, as it has benefited residents at Southwest Ohio Developmental Center (SODC) as well as staff. Over the past two years, we have worked with our area County Boards (Preble, Montgomery, Greene, Butler, Warren, Clinton, Hamilton, and Clermont) to create five transitional group homes. Three of these homes are currently in place, and two are being purchased. This allowed us to place 17 individuals into the community, living in smaller residential settings. We also have been successful in working with the counties to place an additional 24 residents in community settings this year. We are thankful for the positive relationship we have with our County Boards, and for the SODC staff who work tirelessly on behalf of the individuals at SODC. These relationships have allowed residents to move out of the Developmental Center knowing that proper follow-up will be provided among County Board staff, providers, and DC staff.  Open communication and a willingness to put people first has been key to the success of these endeavors. I am thankful to have such great people to work with.

Thankful for a 30-Year Employment Partnership

Roppe Rubber Corp. and Seneca Re-Ad Industries celebrated their 30-year collaboration this month with an open house. Through this employment partnership, nearly 100 workers with developmental disabilities produce more than 25 million merchandise sample pieces per year for Roppe, and others in the flooring industry. Seneca Re-Ad Industries is a non-profit entity working in collaboration with the Seneca County Board of DD to provide vocational services and work opportunities. According to Adult Services Director Rodney Biggert, “Our partnership with Roppe gives people a good job and the opportunity to make good money — then paying taxes and spending that money back into the community. It strengthens the individual and the entire community.” What started in a 2,500 square foot. building with only eight employees in 1984 has grown into a 30,000 square foot building with nearly 100 employees today. (See photo in complete issue.)

Thankful for Persevering Staff

Joseph Knetzer, President of Midwest Health Services, Inc., shared a note of thanks on behalf of Kathy, a program participant who has had some challenges over the past few years: “For whatever reason, and we do not know the reason, Kathy asked to start doing her laundry in a Laundromat, and she asked to go to the Akron Zoo. She had a great time at both. We hope this will continue, but we never know. Our staff were willing to plan for success (even if it didn’t happen) and not just look at Kathy’s past and say, “No.” Whether she has any more successes, we don’t know that either, but she had two this month! There’s the difference in someone’s life — not just an empty ‘brochure picture.’ Outcomes happen quietly with love and perseverance, not some shingle we hang up saying how great we are.” (See photo in complete issue.)