The Ohio Provider Resource Association (OPRA) presented Partners For Community Living with its Community Member of the Year Award during ceremonies in Columbus on November 4. According to OPRA, “community” is more than just the place where one lives. It’s the feeling of fellowship that can characterize any place, among any group of people. This award is dedicated to an OPRA member that best creates “community” – within and without its walls, nurturing relationships with all the populations it touches, exhibiting measurable action in:
*developing and showing appreciation for volunteers and other individuals who choose to be involved with the agency; exceptional service to individuals served and their families; friendly and thriving relationships with vendors and other business connections; taking advantage of opportunities offered from outside the agency to involve individuals served in the larger world; and outstanding community involvement, outreach and development.
Partners was recognized for our shared volunteer program, which is an example of our thriving and growing relationship with the community. We partner with every college/university in our region, as well as several public and parochial schools, with churches and other community organizations and with businesses, such as Lexis Nexis, providing support that enhances the lives of every individual and providing our agencies value-added support we would not have without our volunteers. They decorate our homes for the holidays, bake cookies, play games, plant flowers, sing with us, laugh with us and sometimes cry with us. They share that most important thing – the priceless gift of friendship.
Partners serves as the state coordinator for the Lest We Forget initiative that was responsible for the development and national distribution of an award-winning film documentary and audio documentary; Partners has initiated and coordinated fundraising, grants, and investment/endowment building. We have brought a level of recognition and involvement from the community, including such efforts as a monthly public access television program, an award-winning website, far-reaching social media and Facebook efforts, feature stories with local media outlets; and person-centered newsletters that have resulted in increased funding and support that directly impacts the quality of life for those we serve. One story in one newsletter generated more than $3,500 in two weeks to purchase a hearing aid for one person. Another story on Facebook resulted in the donation of a furnace for a couple.
Our annual Fish Fry, Bowl-A-Thon, and Dining with the Stars are just three examples of the depth of community relationships that Partners has developed. Ten area media personalities and community leaders join us every May for Dining with the Stars as our celebrity waiters, with sponsorships from many of our vendors and community supporters. Such is the depth of commitment from some of those community friends that they now serve on Partners Community Team (Nancy Wilson, Larry Hansgen and John and Marty Moe.)
Partners For Community Living has opened and continues to open so many doors in the community, doing so with a depth of passion that not only touches and changes the lives of those we serve but just as deeply changes the lives of those who come to us through the work of our Partners team, which includes Judy Leasure, Pam Skelly and Kelly Baker.