January 26th ~ Art & Soul Entry Deadline

Art & Soul Exhibit 2018 will take place from March 17, 2018 – April 1, 2018 at the Downtown Dayton Metro Library in Dayton, Ohio. The deadline for entries is Friday, January 26, 2018. A juried exhibit, Art & Soul gives artists who have developmental disabilities the opportunity to showcase and sell their work.

The top 45 entries of all submitted will be selected by an independent judging panel of professional artists for this exhibit. The benefits to artists whose work is selected for exhibit include: an opportunity to showcase their artwork to a large, diverse audience; professional framing paid for by event sponsors; a chance to earn income through artwork sales; eligibility to win monetary awards; and much more. On Saturday, March 24, 2018, Partners For Community Living and Toward Independence will host the 11th annual Art & Soul Exhibit Artist Awards Ceremony and Reception at the Downtown Dayton Metro Library.

Know an artist with a developmental disability who would like to enter? Click here for entry guidelines and entry form.

Join us for our 2018 Art & Soul opening reception and awards ceremonies on Saturday March 24th,  at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St. Dayton Ohio 45402


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.

Excitement grows for Art & Soul Opening Reception & Artists Award Ceremony

Saturday April 22nd 2017, 3-5pm Toward Independence Xenia, Ohio

It’s excitement for those who have made commitments to serve as sponsors for Art & Soul 2017, as well as the artists from around Ohio who have eagerly submitted their entries for consideration for the statewide exhibit, with opening ceremonies on Saturday, April 22 at Toward Independence in Xenia. The opening reception is open to the public at no charge. Work from artists in the Exhibit will be available for sale.a&s 2015 2

Partners For Community Living and Toward Independence have been coordinating the regional exhibit for the past nine years and are honored to be part of its statewide expansion for our 10th anniversary Exhibit. We are honored to announce that this year’s entries were juried (judged) by Glen Cebulash, Chair & Professor, Art & Art History at Wright State University; Glenna Jennings, Assistant Professor, Photography, Department of Art & Design, University of Dayton; and Valerie Shesko, Cincinnati-based landscape artist and printmaker with works in numerous collections.

The Exhibit, which includes cash awards for Best of Show and other awards, is funded 100% by sponsorships and donations. We welcome Hutcheson Homecare Pharmacy and Key Bank as a first-time sponsors, along with our legacy sponsors, the Butler, Greene, Hamilton, and Montgomery County Boards, as well as the Warren County Board of DD. Our legacy sponsors have been with us every year, making it possible for us to celebrate a growing number of artists with developmental disabilities. We also honor Edith Fuson, Judy Leasure, Bob & Gloria Archer who are joining us Art Patrons.

We are indebted to Sketches Framing in Beavercreek for their support in matting and framing the work selected for the Exhibit.

Sponsorships are still available to support this year’s Exhibit. Individuals and groups may also purchase an ad in our Exhibit program to honor our artists or their group/organization. Art Patrons are invited to join us with a tax-deductible donation of $100.00. Exhibit coordinators emphasize that this is not a fundraising event and that all of the sponsorships and donations go directly to professionally mat and frame art selected for the Exhibit, as well as for cash awards and other artist recognition.

Follow our Facebook page for up to date information.


Fish N Chips March 3rd 2017

Join us  for  our Annual Fish Fry, Friday March 3rd 2017, raising funds to support the people we serve at Choices In Community Living and Resident Home Association.

It’s more than the best fish dinner around, it’s wonderful raffles, a delicious bake sale, Monte Carlo games, and more! Fun for the whole family and you support people with developmental disabilities.

Located at the Huber Athletic Foundation, 5367 Fishburg Road in Huber Heights. Dinner begins at 6:00 and runs until 9:00 p.m. Casino-style games will run until 11:00. Tickets are $15.00 in advance or $20.00 at the door.

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Or contact Pam Skelly at partners@rhadayton.com or 937-278-0791 to reserve your tickets. Remember, proceeds benefit people with developmental disabilities served by Choices In Community Living and Resident Home Association.

If you would like to make a donation to our raffle baskets or bake sale or if you are interested in volunteer opportunities at our Fish ‘N Chips, please contact Kelly at kbaker@rhadayton.com or 937-278-0791.


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!