DSI thanks its community partners and advocates
Developmental Services, Inc. honored some of its most ardent supporters and dedicated employees November 8th during its 42nd annual banquet in Columbus, Indiana.
DSI paid special tribute to Seymour, Indiana residents Sandy and Doug Royer with the Volunteer and Service Award.
After delivering Thanksgiving meals on behalf of their church to area families in need, the Royers approached DSI several years ago about doing something special for the residents of the Elm Street Group home in Seymour.
“Since that time, the Royers have made the holidays special by purchasing and delivering gifts to all the clients on Christmas Day,” said Sam Simmermaker, the event’s emcee. “They’ve also attended client events and donated to Special Olympics so that consumers could engage in some healthy competition and make new friends.”
“Birthdays at Elm Street were particularly memorable because the Royers would bake cakes and purchase gifts for the residents,” added Simmermaker. Certainly, the Royers embody the idea that anyone can make a big difference in the life of someone who needs an occasional lift because of their circumstance or challenge. A little time and thoughtfulness will almost always be rewarded with a smile.”
Emerge Wrestling in Columbus, Indiana also received Volunteer and Service Award honors.
“For years, professional wrestlers with aliases’ like Johnny Justice, Yukon Mike, Aaron Anarchy, and Karma have entertained DSI consumers,” said Simmermaker. “This year, a Columbus-area group has contributed much more than ring-side fun for individuals with disabilities.” According to DSI staff, Emerge Wrestling, created an environment for personal engagement for DSI clients while raising money and awareness to support programs and services designed to help them achieve their life goals. To ensure that their biggest fans have the opportunity to see their favorite grappling heroes, Emerge has donated hundreds of dollars in free tickets to DSI clients.
Emerge fundraising activities from ticket sales and auctions have netted nearly $3000 for DSI. But perhaps their greatest contribution has been helping one DSI consumer achieve his ultimate dream of wrestling in the ring as part of a tag-team bout billed as the Downtown Throwdown. “The match, as well as DSI client and new wrestling icon, Justin Wells became must-see entertainment for nearly 1000 spectators in August,” said Simmermaker. So big was the wrestling extravaganza, that it was widely covered in newspapers, on the radio and on social media around the State.
DSI’s Direct Support Professional Award went to Brenda Wade of Seymour, Indiana.
“Brenda Wade has worked in a group home for several years not only assisting individuals with disabilities to live more independently, but opening doors for them to experience life to its fullest,” said Simmermaker.”
Despite consumer mobility challenges, Wade made it a point not to let them stand in the way of attending community events. A trip to the zoo for example meant solving the logistical challenges of transportation, individual mobility needs and dispensing medication for a group of individuals. “Brenda gladly did all this and much more,” added Simmermaker. “Her supervisor considers her a staunch advocate for the rights of her consumers and the leader and heart of a team of DSPs that has been providing exceptional care for consumers for years.” According to her co-workers, Wade is known for treating her clients like an extension of her own family and her clients has expressed the same sentiments about her.
Joe Broomall, DSI’s Consumer Achievement Award recipient, fell in love with dinosaurs the first time he saw Barney on TV when he was four years old.
“This passion, which has been embraced by Joe’s parents, has served him well over the years. When he had difficulty learning to read, Joe read books about dinosaurs,” said Simmermaker. “As Joe got older, his interests motivated him to use video equipment and the internet to make his own dinosaur movies.” Broomall even learned to budget his money so he could purchase dinosaur models and real fossils. By visiting the Mid-America Paleontology Society Expo in Illinois each year with his family, Broomall has learned to overcome his aversion of large crowds. Currently, Broomall is a dinosaur expert and a volunteer at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Here, he works in the Paleo Prep Lab thanks to the cooperative efforts of DSI’s community habilitation program, IMPG case management, and the Museum. “Donning a white lab coat, Joe works behind the scenes using paleontology tools to clean dinosaur bones while visitors watch him work through a window looking into the lab,” Simmermaker. “Joe also answers questions for Museum guests - some of which baffled even the most ardent dinosaur pundits.” Broomall’s interdisciplinary team says his volunteer job has increased his self-confidence as well as his communication, social and vocational skills. It’s also helped him make some good friends along the way.
Brandon Shumaker, the Fleet and Facilities Manager for DSI, received the Professional of the Year Award for service excellence during DSI’s largest merger in its 42 year history. “I can’t say enough about how Brandon’s stepped up in recent months,” said Shane Burton, DSI Chief Executive Officer. “This has been a very busy year at DSI and Brandon’s had a hand in many of the new projects.” Burton noted that Shumaker, a resident of Columbus, and his facilities crew are currently assisting DSI at 11 program facilities and in 55 counties in Indiana.
Some of Shumaker’s noteworthy accomplishments include building Education and Enrichment classrooms and a new fitness center for DSI clients in Columbus, a Personal Enhancement Program classroom in Seymour, renovating much of the administrative office area, augmenting DSI’s security systems, and maintaining a growing fleet of vehicles.
GECOM Corporation received Industry of the Year honors.
“GECOM Corporation celebrates its 30th anniversary as a leading manufacturer of automotive parts and mechanisms,” said Simmermaker. “Soon after opening its doors in Greensburg, Indiana, GECOM opened new opportunities for individuals with disabilities.” For almost three decades GECOM has provided work for DSI Industries in Greensburg - giving many individuals with disabilities a chance to earn a paycheck while gaining job and life skills. “The word ‘partnership’ truly describes the working relationship that has existed for 28 years between this industry and DSI,” said Mel Fields, DSI Chief Operating Officer. “The employees of GECOM have heart for the services and supports we provide for people with disabilities and prove it every day.” According to Fields GECOM’s commitment to DSI was especially vital during some lean times about ten years ago during an economic recession. “During that difficult period of time, GECOM continued to provide work opportunities for the clients at Decatur Developmental Industries,” said Fields. “Their level of commitment and support for individuals with disabilities has been remarkable.”
As is the case with most notable partnerships, the positive sentiments are resoundingly mutual. “GECOM is very proud of our great and long relationship that we have forged together with DSI,” said Brent Jones, GECOM Senior Executive. “Through good times and tough times we’ve been there for each other.” “GECOM’s quality assurance moto is Striving to Be the Best in Class,” said Fields. “DSI congratulates GECOM on 30 years of making good on this promise and for being the “Best” partner they could ask for.”
Amy Rodgers, manager of McDonald’s in Muncie Indiana, was named Employer of the Year for providing work opportunities for individual with disabilities. Rodgers, a Muncie, Indiana resident, has hired four DSI clients. “The thing I love best about Amy is how she wants to really know her employees and how to work best with them,” said DSI Employment Specialist, Joan Bonnet. “Amy’s always striving to learn how to be a great manager to our clients.” Although the individuals working for Rodgers have various mental and physical challenges, she has restructured tasks and work schedules to accommodate their needs and maximize their productivity. In addition, Amy’s cheerful and calming personality, as well as her natural communication skills, has made her employees feel empowered and confident. “For many individuals with disabilities, community employment represents a pinnacle of personal achievement,” added Bonnet. “For them, earning a paycheck means gaining the independence, pride and confidence to tackle life’s greatest challenges.” “It’s a great honor to work beside her,” said Bonnet of Rodgers. “I am grateful that my clients can go to work and have a great time, earn a paycheck, feel independent and respected. Amy has demonstrated extraordinary patience and compassion to ensure that DSI consumers had the best opportunities to succeed.”
Also at the banquet it was announced that Olivia Ortman of Columbus received the Developmental Services, Inc. William K. Hadar Scholarship Fund. The scholarship honors DSI’s longest serving Chief Executive Officer, Bill Hadar. “This $1000 award marks a new tradition that will perpetuate the achievements and dreams of future professionals dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others,” said Shane Burton, DSI Chief Executive Officer. “DSI is very proud that Olivia is the first of what they anticipate to be many very worthy William K. Hadar Scholarship Fund award recipients.” Olivia graduated from Columbus East High School in the Spring and is currently studying Occupational Therapy at Indiana University.