So many the blessings around us this season of giving

Volunteer Coordinator Pam Winston helps sort donated gifts.

Volunteer Coordinator Pam Winston helps sort donated gifts.

Twas the week before Christmas and the tables in the conference rooms at Resident Home Association were filled to overflowing with beautifully wrapped gifts with ribbons and bows, some quite small and some quite large – each one representing the truest meaning of the holiday season. For the staff of Dermatologists of Southwest Ohio a big part of Christmas every year is filling those tables with gifts for people served by RHA who might not otherwise have gifts to open on Christmas. These most generous of Santa’s helpers have been making holiday wishes come true for more than five years. It started out with a few of the staff deciding to celebrate their holidays by giving of themselves to others. That sense of generosity proved contagious and the result can be seen in all the bags and boxes sitting on the tables waiting to be delivered just in time for a most joyous Christmas for those at RHA who don’t have their own families or finances to provide gifts. Just about everyone at the Dermatologists of Southwest Ohio is now involved in their annual holiday effort, from providing funds to purchase gifts, to going out and shopping for gifts that meet the individual needs and wishes of residents, to all the time spent in wrapping all those gifts, each one with a name tag so that each person knows the gifts are meant just for him/her.

Go to another part of the RHA office just before Christmas and you’ll find counter tops filled with bags of holiday gifts for several of our homes and residents  the result of the personal generosity of 100+ staff of the claims department at CareSource.

Volunteer David Casey brought holiday cheer to RHA’s Piedmont Home when he hosted a holiday dinner for the residents and the staff, noting how important it is that staff have the opportunity to be served during this special time of year, in recognition of the service they provide throughout the year. David provided dinner for 15 that included his mother’s homemade German potato salad, cole slaw, chicken and more. One of the most meaningful gifts we received this year was the service of David and his daughter Christina, who adopted our Piedmont Home.

Volunteer Tim Riazzi adopted RHA’s Springmill Home this year. After gardening and landscaping during the summer and fall, he celebrated the holiday season with our Springmill ladies by purchasing holiday decorations and then decorating the home for the holidays. He and his wife Barb also joined us as Art Patrons for our 2013 Art & Soul art exhibit.

Lisa MIchelle GeriwebThat generosity of spirit can also be seen in the faces of Lisa Fairchild (l), Michelle Ortel, and Geri MacCrimmon. They joined other staff at Choices In Community Living in giving back to the community during the holidays by filling barrels with food for The Dayton Food Bank, something they do two times a year. The three ladies know just how important family is. Lisa and Michelle are Geri’s daughters. Geri is the friendly voice that answers the phones and handles office duties at Choices, while Michelle is Choices’ Billing Specialist and Lisa is involved in Human Resources, IT, staff training and more.


For this season and so much more – a life full of meaning

There was a time for Donny Rice when he wondered if his life had meaning, where he was in what he calls ‘his dark place.’ My Dad died and I took it really hard,” he remembers, “we were so close, he believed in me and challenged me and loved me and I almost couldn’t get through losing him. I can remember my Dad sitting by me when I was five years old and telling me that I was going to have challenges and there would be a lot that I couldn’t do, but that I had to make the most of what I could do. That’s when he began teaching me about the basics of computers. I remember when I was six he couldn’t get his computer to work and I showed him how to fix it. There was also the time I actually hacked into his computer, which he wasn’t too pleased with. The thing I remember most is my graduation from Kettering Fairmont High School (Go, Firebirds!) and my Dad crying and telling me how proud he was of me and that he knew I’d do it because that’s what I do when I set my mind to something.”

Donny became a member of our Choices’ extended family in 2004. He lives now in one side of a duplex with his best friend Torry Brown. He is 32 years old, a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, an employee of MONCO, and he has a dream for his life. “My dream is to own my own computer repair business one day. I actually dream about that, about supporting myself and not having the government support me!”

With the support of some funds from Choices’ Wish List, Donny signed up to take classes at Wright State University, in government, music appreciation and, most importantly, computer science. “I really wanted to try this,” he says, “but I had to drop out. I was just ill prepared and so I couldn’t continue, but, you know, I don’t regret it. It was part of my plan to make my dream come true and some people may say I failed but I say I tried! I have a five year plan that includes going back to school, this time ITT to learn more about computers, after I get some of my bills paid off and can focus on my classes.

”It’s difficult to keep count of how many times Donny praises Choices in any discussion you have with him. “My friends and my staff, they got me through my dark times, still do. They listen to me, give me advice, support my dreams. Chris (McGlaughlin) and all the staff are awesome. I am so thankful for the understanding I receive from everyone, particularly Tom Weaver (Choices Executive Director). Don’t tell him I said so, but he’s a cool guy!”

“It’s my friends and my staff who helped me make it through, especially when Dad died. They are as close to me as any family could be. With them by my side I’m even finding my faith again. I’m going back to my Catholic faith and try to go to Mass every Saturday. You know, we all need to have something to believe in, something that is bigger than yourself, something that helps us all connect to each other.

”His face lights up and his words come from the heart when he says, “I could not be any happier. I’m living a big part of my dream at Choices – family and friends around me. I had to go through some obstacles in my life, not go around them. I can’t and won’t let my dream die. I still miss my Dad but I think he would be proud of me, proud that the flame in my heart is roaring!”

Read the rest of our Choices Voices Newsletter here


Celebrating the season

Andrew  John Christmas treewebFor Andrew and John (Choices In Community Living) the holiday season is now official with the trimming of the Christmas tree in their home. They join all of us at Choices, Resident Home Association and Partners For Community Living in sending wishes for a meaningful and memorable holiday season to our families, friends and community. In 2013 we shared laughter and loss, opportunities and challenges – every day a day of Thanksgiving and celebration for all of us.

We are enriched by each of you who shared this year with us. It is because of you that we so fully understand these words made famous by the Grinch:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, “How could it be so?  It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.”  And he puzzled three hours till his puzzler was sore, then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more!