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Honoring Celeste

Celeste (2nd from l) accepts her Spirit Award from Nancy Ritchey, Tom Weaver (Choices Executive Director) and Mark Gerhardstein (retiring Superintendent of the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services.)

Celeste (2nd from l) accepts her Spirit Award from Nancy Ritchey, Tom Weaver (Choices Executive Director) and Mark Gerhardstein (retiring Superintendent of the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services.)

Our community came together on April 25 to be a part of honoring Celeste Boehm for more than 20 years of dedicated and creative service on behalf of people with developmental disabilities served by Choices In Community Living. Celeste was presented the2014  Spirit Award during the Developmental Disabilities Hall of Fame/Erin Ritchey Memorial Awards ceremonies at the Mandalay Banquet Center. It was both a fitting and emotional honor that came just as Celeste retired from her role as a Program Director at Choices.

Her very first job at Choices was cleaning houses. In those days, she did do windows. Based on her initial experiences while cleaning the homes, she found herself more and more drawn to the people who lived in them. She soon became a Direct Support Professional in one home and then moved into a leadership position as a program administrator. As she retires as program director, she oversees and supervises 45 staff who provide services to 30 people in ten homes.

Some of her homes have people with the most challenging behaviors. One home serves men who have behaviors that have placed them in contact with law enforcement. It is not difficult to imagine what their lives would have been like if it had not been for Celeste’s patient and determined intervention.

Another home serves ladies who initially had many difficulties adjusting to living together. She developed a house meeting concept where the women meet regularly and have their individual voices heard. They now live together as family.

Celeste developed the social-sexual guidelines used throughout the agency. She has been the one person to call for behavioral intervention. She has chaired the agency-wide Documentation Committee.

She is the one of the key people who made it possible for people who might have otherwise been cast aside to become members of households, to become independent, each in his/her own way. She has been the source of quiet strength who has turned what initially seemed like impossibilities into life-affirming and life-changing possibilities.

For years to come there will be people living in safe and nurturing homes, who live together as families, who are part of our community and not apart from it, and there will be those of us who remember that they are doing so because once upon a time Celeste Boehm washed windows.

Know this Celeste. We will remember you!