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2017 in Review


As I sat down to write this 2017 review, I knew it would take me awhile, as so many wonderful things occurred this year. I am sure some of you may be weary of hearing about our 50th anniversary celebration and the ‘Always There’ campaign; however, if you’ll allow me one final assessment of the year, I’ll be most appreciative.


In March 2017, we began a year-long celebration that started with a “Spread the Word to End the Word” event, our annual Partnership Luncheon, and Advocacy Day at the Ohio Statehouse. During the summer, we participated in an OACB Service Project to give back to our communities. We supported the construction of two Little Free Libraries and hosted a book drive to keep them filled in the future. Then most of the summer and fall, we planned for our 50th Anniversary Gala in October. More than 300 people joined us for this celebration. We were honored to have many individuals and families we serve, former board members, former staff and the list goes on. As part of this celebration, we finished up six scrapbooks, so all the history is in one place. One last event was going to the Ohio Statehouse again in October for the formal honoring of the County Board of DD system. There, we placed a time capsule to be opened in 25 years. With each event, it was important to remember the pioneers – primarily families – who fought very hard in the 1950s and 1960s for their children to have equal access to education, employment, community involvement and transportation. Even though the support and services are different in 2017, we strive to keep the focus on why we do what we do each day.


In other news this year (there really was other news besides the 50th anniversary)


We partnered with the Allen County Land Bank to begin constructing our first home specifically for the needs of individuals with Autism. Through the Land Bank’s hard work, we were able to obtain a city lot on North Street to place this home. A grant was secured for $247,500 to build this home through our partnership with LODDI, Inc (the non-profit housing corporation that meets the housing needs of individuals with disabilities). We hope to open this home by September 2018.


We were accepted to participate in the Provider Partnership Quality Project, where we joined two of our local waiver providers and other groups across the state to address the unique needs that face our providers today. This has been a very rewarding project, and we are excited about ideas that have come to life – such as monthly Learning Lunches, a Success Coach who will mentor and help staff, and most recently, our agency providing orientation services for providers. We will continue working on this initiative in 2018.


We are embarking on a significant change in leadership at the school with Peggy Cockerell retiring on December 31, after 44 years at Marimor School. Barb Blass begins her official duties on January 1 as the Director of Education and Early Intervention, while Rachael Staley is the new Early Childhood Supervisor.


This year we faced yet another hard decision with our Help Me Grow home visiting team. The board had to make the very tough decision to no longer provide the home visiting services, due to substantial changes in the requirements of the program. We were very grateful to work with Mercy Health for a smooth transition. It is still very hard to no longer have those staff with us; however, we have heard they are doing amazingly well in their new environment.


We moved the part-time FANS coordinator to a full-time Community Connections position and it has just taken off. Sarah Troyer leads FANS, Aktion Club and many other initiatives in her new role. She’s always looking for new and creative ways to ensure community life is top notch for those we serve in 2018.


We set a plan in motion to make employment the true first choice in Allen County, by forming the Employment Navigation unit. This is a group of staff committed to integration, innovative transition education services, and employment initiatives. This unit will be led by Melodie Conley, who will combine her many years of experience in Employment Services with her SSA knowledge to develop a new person-centered approach to this important area.


Our major capital work this year was repaving the campus driveways and refreshing many aspects of our campus environment. Many dedicated staff make sure our building and grounds are well maintained and inviting to the public. Come for a tour any time, and say hello to our new Maintenance Foreman, Tim Richards, who uses his creativity and ingenuity daily.


I want to leave you with one last thing as I close out the review of 2017. I had the chance to hear Mr. Charles Marshall speak this year. He is a humorist that is very encouraging to anyone listening. I recently read this article by him that has so much truth. I hope you enjoy it. If we do not say it enough, thanks for your support! We could not do what we do without each and everyone one of YOU – those we serve, families, providers, partner agencies, etc.


Happy New Year and may 2018 be wonderful to you! Theresa

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