Where everyone knows your name

Huber Heights is one of those places where everyone knows your name and accepts you as a neighbor. No one knows that better than Leah Byrd. She has made a home for her and her family and for her ‘second’ family as well. “Everyone here knows everyone else and in a neighborly way,” she says of the place she has called home for the past seven years. Just about everyone involved in youth sports in the community most likely knows Leah. Her daughter is a junior high cheerleader and her son is a fourth grader who is active in basketball, football and baseball. She is secretary of HHYFC.

For those who don’ t know Leah from her involvement with HHYFC, they may know her because of that second family she is so proud of. A part of that family, four ladies, lives in a home in Huber in a quiet neighborhood where they all enjoy going out to cheer on the children who play soccer and other games on their welcoming street. Another part of that family is a cheerful home where four men have grown to become a family. The four ladies and the four men live in homes operated by Choices In Community Living. Leah is the Program Administrator for both homes. She has been a member of the Choices’ team for five years. Prior to that, she worked at the Montgomery Developmental Center.

“People with developmental disabilities can sometimes become isolated because of their disabilities and by the communities they live in,” shares Leah about her passion for her work. “That’s one thing that sets Huber apart. Here we have neighbors who come out and help us shovel snow. The ladies go to all my kids’ sporting events and everyone knows them and greets them. They are like aunts to my kids.”

The ladies and men are active participants in their community. They are on a bowling league at Capri Lanes. They participate in track and field and bowling in Special Olympics. Hobby Lobby is one of the favorite shopping spots for the ladies, two of whom also take part in the Choices’ Fun-Fit program at the Y at the Heights. They also enjoy the Aquatic Center. “We are always busy and always doing something in the community,” continues Leah, “we love going out to eat. That’s where I’ve really seen just how open and welcoming this community is. There have been several occasions when some of us have been out to dinner at a restaurant and have had our dinners paid for by people we’ve never met. We know there are places where people are not as openly accepted because of their disabilities. Words can’t express how much it means when you live in a community that is this caring and supportive.”


Huntsview ladies - 2017

Leah is pictured with (l-r) Hannah, Gisela, Rose and Cheryl.

Happy Birthday, Richard


Richard 88The birthday cake brought a smile to Richard’s face but what made him really happy was being surrounded by his Choices family as they shared his 88th birthday with him. He is pictured with his Program Administrator Diann Reid, his Program Director Danette Addison, and Program Administrator Amy Jewsikow (front.) Their most important titles for Richard, however, have nothing to do with their jobs at Choices. It has everything to do with their support of him. They are first and foremost his family and his friends.

Richard is a happy, content and friendly man, always quick to greet those he has known for a long time and those he just meets with a warm hello or have a great day or have a great weekend. All of his birthdays were not as happy as the one he just celebrated. For many years, a young Richard lived ‘out of sight and out of mind’ in one of Ohio’s state institutions, the Gallipolis Institution. He had a difficult transition when he came back to Dayton from Gallipolis, a transition where he first met Danette, who guided him through some of those very difficult times, as Diann guides him through the joys and challenges of his life today as one of our most cherished senior citizens.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone just all that we do at Choices, with so many activities and programs, so many rules and policies, just what is our mission, just what is a Direct Support Professional or Program Administrator and all those other things. But then sometimes it’s just so easy. We just say look at our wonderful Richard and see what it looks like to be 88 and to be respected, honored and loved for who you are. That’s what we do and who we are!







Saving a life is all in a day’s work for DSPs

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who serve people with developmental disabilities are many things. They are good cooks. Just ask anyone in any of the homes of Choices In Community Living and Resident Home and good cooking is at the top of everyone’s list of what is important. They have the kind of gentle persuasion that gets everyone in a home up and ready for work or activities. They are counselors when someone is having a bad day and referees to stop small differences from turning into something big. They make sure a home is running smoothly, that medications are on schedule, that there are activities in the home and in the community. And at any given moment they are ready to become something else – lifesavers.

Such a moment came recently for Choices’ team members Felicia Merchant and Sarah Babcock (Madison County.) One of the gentlemen they serve has a history of seizures. On one hot June day he was sitting on the couch in his home watching television. He got up from the couch, took a few steps, dropped to his knees and fell forward on his face. Something similar had happened to him before but this time was different.

Felicia and Sarah noticed that his nose was bleeding and he was ‘jerking’ while on the floor. They helped him up to the couch. He let out a very loud scream and began to have a seizure, then fell to sleep. He snored one time and quit. Felicia noticed him turning pale and asked Sarah to check and see if he was breathing. She checked his pulse and looked to see if his chest was rising and falling. They could not find a pulse and his chest was not rising.

Taking immediate action, the two DSPs lowered him to the floor. Sarah began CPR and chest compressions while Felicia called the emergency squad and her supervisor. As a result of their actions, he finally coughed and blood was coming out of his mouth and nose. They rolled him on his side and cleared away as much blood as they could until the emergency squad arrived. He was taken to the hospital where it was determined that in the fall he had broken his nose in several places.

He was given medication and a referral to see a specialist. He is back home and back to work and once again enjoying quiet time on his couch watching his favorite television shows. Felicia and Sarah, cool-headed, quick-thinking, fast responding Felicia and Sarah, remain right there by his side. Without panic and calling on their training, they saved his life on that hot day in June. It was all in a day’s work, as it is for every DSP, but what meaningful and empowering work it is.

Every day working alongside the people we serve calls on us all to give what Sarah and Felicia gave on that day – to give our very best. There isn’t a moment when we don’t change lives. Sometimes there are even moments when we save lives!


A Day with the Dragons

Dragons - Bobby Park with GemDragons - Damian Reed hitting ballWhen they aren’t actively taking part in activities in one of our great YMCAs in the area, participants in Choices In Community Living’s Adult Day Services program (Fun Fit) really enjoy getting out in the community. Couple that with the fact that they may be the biggest fans of the Dayton Dragons baseball team and it couldn’t help but be a great day when they took part in the Dragons’ baseball clinic, presented by the Dragons and the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services.

They got the chance to get up close tips from Dragons players and get their autographs and photos taken with them. They also enjoyed meeting and greeting Heater and Gem (the Dragons’ mascots.)  Following a day of activities, they then got to cheer on their hometown favorites during an evening game playing the Beliot Snappers.

Thanks to Fun Fit Coordinator Heather Combs they now have many photos to share with family and friends of their day at Fifth Third Stadium with the Dragons. Photos include (above) Bobby Park with Gem;  Damian Reed taking a swing at bat at one of the many activities provided during the day; and Cheryl Babb (below) with Gem.Dragons - Trent Grooms and Rhonda McCrayHuman Resources Director Trent Grooms and Rhonda McCray meet Heater. Trent also oversees the Fun Fit program.


Dragons - Cheryl Babb with Gem


Mindy’s tender heart

At first glance one of the most striking things about Mindy Husmann (Choices In Community Living) is how tiny she is physically. Meet her and talk with her and, more importantly, listen as she talks to you, and it’s not her physical size you will remember. What you will remember is just how big her heart is.

One example is the recent garage sale held with her roommates and staff. Mindy, along with staff member Lisa Haines, came up with the idea of a garage sale to raise money to help others. All of the staff, Karon Miller (Program Administrator), Lisa, Gigi King, Myrna Reese, Judy Kelly and Diana Imperial, donated items and helped the ladies with the sale. The ladies as well as their families also donated items. Some donated money and others were customers. When one man heard about the sale, he just handed them $20.00.

Mindy is well-known for her generosity. She is donating some of the money from the garage sale to Choices’ Wish List. The Wish List is supported 100% by donations, from the proceeds of Partners annual Bowl-A-Thon and by pledges from Choices’ staff. The Wish List provides clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, hearing aids and other medical equipment, furniture, recreation and more directly to individuals when there are no other funds available to meet those needs. Mindy wanted to be part of making some wishes come true for members of her extended family at Choices.

In addition to donating some of the money from the garage sale to the Wish List, she wants to also donate to the Cancer Society. “I see people at church and they have cancer. And it’s sad and they need help,” she shares, “I’m happy to help people with cancer.” According to Karon Miller, Mindy has one more thing in mind for some of the proceeds from the sale. “She would like to treat her roommates to dinner,” says Karon, “Mindy is just a very giving person and she wants everyone to know that everyone has something to contribute, something to give back.”

Pictured during the garage sale are (l-r) Diana Imperial, Mindy Husmann, Lisa Panstingel and Gigi King.

Pepper Hill garage sale


A dream this big

Ewers and Patty

Ron and Jan Ewers, with Program Manager Patty Medley (r) and Donnie Ewers (seated.)

It’s been about overcoming challenges their entire lives for Ron and Jan Ewers. It was challenging for them 27 years ago when they fell in love and decided to get married, for there was still uncertainty from some areas about people with developmental disabilities getting married. Their enduring marriage has put to rest any concerns from skeptics from all those years ago.

There was the challenge that came with Ron’s weight. So heavy was he at one point that his life was in danger, so heavy that his Program Manager Patty Medley and staff at Choices In Community Living advocated strongly with medical professionals until he was approved for gastric bypass surgery. It has not been an easy journey, but he is now right where he should be. “He is where the doctor wants him to be,” says Patty. “Ron and I talk and look up foods that are good for him. We talk about what to do when he is in a restaurant and they give him too much food. We look up lots of different foods so he isn’t having the same food all the time. It’s a challenge at times, but he has come such a long way. I am so very proud of him!”

They not only dreamed of married life together, but of making a home together. Like so many couples, they had that one big dream – the one they call the American dream – to own their own home.

That dream too would not come to be without its challenges. Patty remembers the persistence, patience and tenacity it took to even envision that dream. She and her staff worked side by side with Ron and Jan for more than two years as they saved money for a down payment and as they worked with the bank to get financing. “Ron and Jan had no credit,” Patty shares, “so we worked with them to establish credit through their utility bills. We put some in Jan’s name and some in Ron’s. We were going to find a way to convince a bank that they deserved the same opportunity as any other potential homeowners. We had to get them pre-approved!”  Pre-approved they finally were and in 2015 they moved into their very own home after being renters for more than 20 years. They are now “enjoying” all the responsibilities of home ownership, which now includes remodeling their kitchen, putting in new cabinets and a back splash.

They are like their neighbors. They love to entertain their friends. They have cook outs in the summer and play games. In the winter they watch movies or play cards. They like to dance, shop and fish. Jan loves to get her nails done.

They wanted that home for the two of them. It was their dream as a couple. It was, however, not the only part of their dream. There was something bigger than the dream of owning a home just to own a home. There was that other dream – the dream of a family being together – after years of separation – a family re-united – that was what this new home would mean.

Ron has a twin brother, Donnie. While Ron found love, a wife, a home, his place in the community, Donnie spent most of his life in institutions. Ron never forgot his brother, never!  There was that bond between them no matter how separated they were – that brother bond – that twin bond – more connected than most brothers because they were twins. He had this really big dream that he could and would do something so that Donnie could have some of the same opportunities he had.  In June, 2015, Donnie moved into that home with his brother and his sister-in-law – in that home they wanted so much for themselves and they wanted even more for him. Ron and Jan wanted that. They made that commitment. Patty and their staff made that commitment as well. Donnie would not only find family with his brother and his wife. He would find family with those who are now dedicated to enriching his life, the same people who have been there by Ron and Jan as their dreams have been realized.

In May, 2016, Ron and Donnie, in that home that speaks of so many challenges  met and overcome, celebrated their birthday together, the first time in 38 years!



Scouts join Bowl-A-Thon 2016

The Tecumseh Council of Boy Scouts of America will be joining Partners For Community Living for our 2016 Partners Bowl-A-Thon, to be held Friday, May 20 at Beaver-Vu Bowl, 1238 Fairfield Road, in Beavercreek. Pizza and pop will be served at 5:30, with bowling to get underway at 6:30. Registration deadline is May 2. Registrations will be accepted as long as lanes are available, so please register early.

The event is the only community fundraiser to support the Wish Lists of Choices In Community Living and the Resident Home Association. The Wish Lists provide funds for clothing, shoes, medical equipment (eye glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs), furniture, vans, recreation, holiday gifts and more when there are no other funds available.

Be a part of a great night of bowling and make wishes come true as a 1) event sponsor; or, 2) bowl with us as an individual bowler or as a team of four. Our Choices and Resident Home bowlers would welcome you to bowl with them on a team.

Sponsorships are available from $25 to $500 and are tax-deductible. To bowl, registration is $25.00 or $90 for a team of four. Registration includes pizza and pop and two games of bowling (and shoes as needed.)  To register, contact jleasure@cicloh.com or complete our online registration form.

The Tecumseh Council of Boy Scouts of America is a 2016 Ohio Public Images Award recipient in recognition of their support of people with developmental disabilities, including chartering a Boy Scouts Venturing Crew with Partners For Community Living.


Self-Advocacy Conference scheduled

A two-day Self-Advocacy Conference for individuals with developmental disabilities (18 years of age and older) is scheduled for April 8 and 9 at the Kettering Recreation Center, 2900 Glengarry Drive in Kettering. Hours will be 9:00 a.m. – 4:00  and will include lunch. The Conference is being presented by the Voices of Greene County Self-Advocacy Team, the Kettering Recreation Center, Greene and Montgomery County Boards of Developmental Disabilities Services, and Choices In Community Living. It is open to individuals who receive services from the Greene and Montgomery County Boards of DDS.

Voices of Greene County will present disability awareness training, as well as a session on rights and responsibilities. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in an array of discovery activities, as well as information related to the steps to self-advocacy and people first language.

Pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, please contact Dave Gleason at 937-562-6505.

The Run, Walk or Roll for Self-Advocacy event will be held at the Kettering Recreation Center on Saturday, April 9. The event is open to the community and will benefit Partners For Community Living and the adaptive recreation program at the Kettering Recreation Center. To register, go to www.keysports.net.



Buch to serve at Dining

Dayton’s own Jim Bucher, also known as Buch the TV Guy, will be front and center as one of our new celebrity waiters for Partners 2016 Dining with the Stars, a celebrity waiter event. After sharing great stories and supporting many organizations during his time at WDTN Television, Buch is now the owner of Buchtvguy.com, a multimedia company based in Dayton.

Buch will join WHIO Radio’s Larry Hansgen, WHKO Radio’s Nancy Wilson and Frye Guy, Channel 22/45’s Natasha Williams, Joseph Toyota’s Christian Hahn and more when Dining with the Stars gets underway at El Meson Restaurant on Sunday, May 15.

Usually closed on Sunday, Bill Castro and his enthusiastic and welcoming El Meson staff will be opening the restaurant just for our fundraising event. “We’ll have the entire restaurant so we can really make this a big event,” he shares, “and we have some new and exciting ideas for how to get our waiters involved with our guests this year. It will be a ‘must see’ event!”

Be watching for more information and be sure to mark your calendars to meet Buch and our other generous and caring waiters. Remember, they do all the hard work and then donate their tips to Partners in support of the people served by Resident Home Association and Choices In Community Living.


Join us in 2016

There’s something for everyone during 2016 as Partners For Community Living announces our Calendar of Events. Please mark your calendars now and plan on joining us at our events and activities.

*Partners Fish ‘N Chips Fish Fry – Join us at the Huber Athletic Foundation, 5367 Fishburg Road in Huber Heights on Friday, March 4. All you can eat fish (and sausage) dinner will be served from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. A variety of casino-style games will be running until 11:00 p.m. Our event will also feature our Raffle Basket Extravaganza, bake sale and more. Tickets are $15.00 in advance and $20.00 at the door. Please contact Pam at pskelly@rhadayton.com or 937-278-0791 to order your advance tickets.

Would you like to be involved in our Fish Fry? Here are some ways you can help:  sponsor our event (your sponsorship is tax-deductible); donate items for our bake sale; donate items for our raffle baskets; volunteer the night of the event; tell  your family and friends about our event and encourage them to attend; share on Facebook.  Contact Kelly at kbaker@rhadayton.com or 937-278-0791 for more information on getting involved.

*9th Annual Art & Soul Exhibit – Join us at Toward Independence, 81 Main Street, Xenia, for the opening reception and awards ceremonies for our celebration of artists with developmental disabilities on Friday, April 8. Our 2016 sponsors to date include the Butler, Greene, Hamilton and Montgomery County Boards of Developmental Disabilities Services.

Entries are being accepted for consideration for this year’s exhibit until February 12. The Exhibit is open to artist s with developmental disabilities in a 22-county region in and around Dayton. Entries will be judged (juried) by a panel of Miami Valley professional artists based on artistic expression and composition. The top 40 entries will be included in the Exhibit, which will be on public display at Toward Independence until April 29. There will be cash awards and other recognition for artists.

Would you like to be involved in support of our artists? Here are some ways you can help: sponsor (tax-deductible) our event at a level of your choosing ($ 100, $250, $500, $1000); place an ad in our event program in support of an artist or group of artists or sharing your support for opportunities for accessible art experiences or for a family member or friend you would like to honor. For entry information and sponsorship/donation information, please contact Beth at beth-esterkamp@ti-inc.org. or 937-708-3656.

*Kettering Recreation and Partners 5k Walk

Be watching for details about our 5k Walk in Kettering on Saturday, April 9.

*Dining with the Stars – See our celebrity waiters in action at El Meson Restaurant on Sunday, May 15, featuring outstanding cuisine, exceptional service, raffles and more. Bill Castro and his El Meson staff will provide the hospitality, our waiters will provide the excitement, and together we’ll share great food and great fun for a great cause. Joining us this year will be Nancy Wilson, Frye Guy, Larry Hansgen and more. Be watching as we announce our celebrity waiters!

Would you like to be involved in support of our celebrity waiters and Dining with the Stars? Here are some ways you can help: make a tax-deductible donation of your choosing in support of one of our waiters to show your support for him/her; sponsor our event (tax-deductible) at a level of your choosing, from $100 to $2500; donate items for our raffle baskets, share information with family and friends and encourage them to join us at El Meson. Contact Judy at jleasure@cicloh.com or 937-898-3655 for sponsorship and other information.

*Partners Bowl-A-Thon – Join us on Friday, May 20 at Beaver-Vu Bowl in Beavercreek for a time of competitive and exciting bowling while you support the Wish Lists for Choices In Community Living and Resident Home Association. Our Wish Lists provide clothing, shoes, medical equipment, furniture, recreation, holiday gifts and more when there are no other funds available. Our Wish Lists are supported solely by donations and proceeds from our Bowl-A-Thon.

Would you like to be involved in our Bowl-A-Thon? Here are some ways you can get involved. Bowl with us – you can form your own four-member team or come out and join one of our teams; purchase 50/50 Jackpot tickets and have a chance to win 50% of the total amount of tickets sold; join George C. Martin Funeral Home and others as a sponsor.  Contact Judy at jleasure@cicloh.com or 937-898-3655 for more information.

*John W. Pratt Legacy Award reception and community campaign kickoff – Join us on November 10 at a location to be announced as we present the 3rd Annual John W. Pratt Legacy Award to an outstanding individual or group who has made significant long-term contributions in support of people with developmental disabilities. 2016 recipient to be announced. Previous recipients were Vivienne Himmell and Nancy Wilson.

Would you like to be involved in honoring our Award recipient? – Here are some ways you can get involved. Join us for our reception with family and friends and help us celebrate with our recipient; make a tax-deductible donation to our 2016 community campaign; share with family and friends.

*Partners Holiday Open House/2016 Jingle Bucks drawing – Join us on Friday, December 9 at a location to be announced as we take time to say thank you to our volunteers, donors, families and friends. We’ll also draw for our winning Jingle Bucks ticket.

Would you like to be involved in support of our Jingle Bucks drawing? Here are some ways you can get involved. Help us meet our goal of selling all 500 Jingle Bucks tickets by purchasing your own, selling to family and friends and sharing new contacts for us to approach, perhaps a business or location that would allow us to post our flyers, sell tickets, etc.; tickets are just $25.00 and only 500 tickets sold.

There will be more to come so keep watching and help us share our good news about great things happening in support of people with developmental disabilities!