Board of DD bids adieu to longtime adult services staff

Board of DD bids adieu to longtime adult services staff

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Marianne Mader enjoys a good book.

But like all books, they must end, and Mader recently shared a story coming to an end in which she has been a vital part. On Tuesday, June 28, the Holmes BDD staff, board, families and friends gathered under the pavilion at the facility to commemorate the many who made an impact on the lives of many through the adult services program.

Due to the process to privatize care for adults with developmental disabilities in Holmes County, the Holmes BDD began a new chapter in its services on July 5 when it began providing its adult services through outside organizations.

“When I think about how I feel as we approach the end of our adult services programs as we know them, it’s sort of how I feel right after finishing a good book,” Mader said. “It’s come to a conclusion, but it’s a little sad. Because I was so engrossed in the story, I kind of wonder what will happen next, and I know I’ll never find out. That makes me a little sad.”

For the past half-century, Holmes BDD has provided adult services to individuals and families with a member with developmental disabilities.

When the state began transitioning toward utilizing outside sources to provide for adult care six years ago, the Holmes BDD began to prepare for the move. When the pandemic arrived, it bought them some time, but they knew the time would come to an end.

That time was July 5 when the former way of providing services ended and a new era of care began.

“Adults with developmental disabilities who attend day services here will see a change this summer,” Mader said. “Because of Medicaid regulations, Holmes BDD can no longer be a provider of adult day services and adult transportation.”

With that transition comes the heartbreaking task of saying goodbye to several long-term employees who have served in a capacity of roles in the organization.

Retiring from the adult services programs were several longtime employees including Sherri Messner, 41 years of service; Miriam Miller, 31; Kathleen Winkler, 30; Joe Hershberger-Kirk, 28; Barb Arnold, 25; Jennifer Kyte, 24; Bonnie Swartzentruber, 24; Karen Mullens, 24; and Teresa Gingerich, 16.

The nine of them have an accumulated 243 years of service at the facility. In addition, Lynn Hope Industries will lose several of its employees including Lisa Miller, Rachel Weaver, Ashley Yoder, Tabitha Bailey, Amanda Reed, Amy Buzzard, Cindy Miller and Mattie Yoder, all of whom Mader said had four or five years of experience.

Winkler spoke about finding a home at the BDD, first honoring the pioneer families who created the adult services programs and then talking about her time building many memories.

“On July 1, 1991, I never dreamed how my life would change because of this place,” Winkler said. “I have been so blessed to work with so many wonderful individuals, families and co-workers. I have been honored to share the joys and sorrows with many. We had laughs, we had tears, and there are many memories and stories I will treasure in my heart forever.”

Messner, who has been a big part of LHI for four decades, said her trek through numerous jobs within the organization helped build her into who she is today.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Messner said. “I’ve done a lot of different jobs here. This has been my family, and they’ve always made everyone feel accepted and special, regardless of who you are. It’s so fulfilling, and it’s a special place full of special people.”

In addition to the adults, several clients also took time to share their gratitude to the staff and their favorite memories of the time spent with friends and staff.

In commemorating those who have served the adult service programs and HCBDD, Mader took those in attendance through a time line of the programs including when the BDD started, the creation of Lynn Hope Industries in 1970, the construction of the current school building and facilities, expansion, and Lynn Hope’s new building in 2000.

“We’ll be in a good place because all three of these providers are very qualified and do great work,” Mader said. “Our families will have more options than ever before.”

The new services and supports provided to the center will emulate services they have provided for decades including residential options, academies, adult day programs, vocational training and recreational programs.

One of the main providers will be GentleBrook, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1974 by Glen and Lois Yoder that provides programs and services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and has focused its attention on clients in Stark and Coshocton counties. The list will now expand to include Holmes County.

“GentleBrook is a terrific organization that we know will continue to provide quality care and leadership for our clients and families to the level we have come to expect,” Mader said.

Mader also said additional care providers will include Midwest Community Services in Millersburg, which provides adult day services, and Sacred Ground in Berlin, which provides individuals with developmental disabilities care and educational opportunities. All these agencies are certified by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.

“We are nearing the end of a very long transition that began in 2016,” Mader said of the move to outside providers. “We are now in the last few pages of a really good book. Starting July 5, everyone will begin reading a new book. There may be some uncertainty as we begin our new story, but I am grateful that our faith will carry us as we respect the past and embrace the future.”