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Change the way you see and see how you change

by Tom Weaver Executive Director
Organizations that serve people with developmental disabilities have struggled for years (and continue to struggle) with the words we use in describing those we serve. All those dark years ago in state-operated institutions they were ‘patients.’ We’ve used terms like clients, residents, consumers as ways to describe them, words that too often lead to a “we” and “them” mindset, leading us to focus on what is different between us more than on what is alike between us. Many of us are not comfortable with this struggle over semantics – the way we use words and the words we use, for words can be used to categorize, label, separate, segregate.

How that thought hit home for me just this March and how appropriate that it hit me during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, the time set aside for us to consider the words we use and the power they have to create change. As forms come across my desk for me to complete there is often some of those words – words like clients – how many clients do we serve? It’s not a bad word by itself, not even a negative word. Maybe it’s just that it isn’t a ‘complete’ word. It doesn’t tell anyone about who our ‘clients’ are, what they believe in, what dreams they have for themselves, who they are as just other human beings alongside us on shared journeys.

Latisha, Shali and Mary taught me something about the use of words and yes, they taught me. It was a routine day in their home on Swallowtail as Monique was preparing dinner for them. The stove was turned on and food was cooking. In a moment, as can happen to any of us at any time, Monique, our Direct Support Professional (DSP) in the home that night, was no longer tending the food on the stove. She had a seizure and collapsed on the floor, the first and only time she ever had such an experience.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Mary went to the stove and turned it off and then went to Monique’s side with Shali, one of them cradling Monique’s head in her lap, while Latisha called 911, then Program Administrator Vicky Wagers. Before Vicky could get to the home, the ambulance was already there. The three women were deeply concerned about Monique but were calm, looking out for each other.

Monique is now fine and grateful to Latisha, Mary, and Shali for their quick and calm actions. And so here’s a thought. When we’re struggling for the right word to describe these three women, what if we use this word – heroes!

Then there is Annie’s story, Annie Long, with us for as long as we have been an agency. We weren’t ready but we recently had to say good-by to Annie nonetheless. It’s been hard. She shared her spirit and her enthusiasm for life openly and, I must say, with gusto. As we came together to celebrate her life and to share our grief at her passing, I was moved as I watched her housemates console not only each other, but their staff as well. When we’re struggling to find the right word to describe Annie and her housemates, what if we use this word – family!

And there is Bill, Bill Eakman, Resident Home Association’s Bill Eakman, a witty, humorous, deeply spiritual man who has felt the call from something beyond himself to minister to others. And in his own way, he is doing just that. He is a part of his church choir. Every Sunday he joins his pastor in front of the congregation and they share a message. He recites scriptures. He has even shared his own messages on some Sundays. He’s known since he was a little boy, he will tell you, that he has a calling and that his dream is to be a minister, perhaps not realizing that he already is in the way he serves his community and the way he ministers to the spirit of all who come in contact with him. When we’re struggling to find the right word to describe Bill, what if we used this word – faith!

Change the way you see them and see how you will change.

Read the rest of our Choices Voices Newsletter here


Thanks to our newest Dining sponsors

We welcome Coolidge Wall Co, LPA and LexisNexis as our newest Dining with the Stars sponsors and thank them for their community leadership and support! We’re now accepting reservations for our big night on May 14 at Thai 9. Our celebrity waiters are looking forward to serving you. Call us at 937-278-0791 to reserve your space for dinner, for either the 5:00-5:30 seating or the 7:30 seating.

You may also request one of our celebrity waiters to serve you. Just let us know when you make your reservations. Our celebrity waiters include Nancy Wilson; Frye Guy; Larry Hansgen; John Paul; Gabrielle Enright; Chick Ludwig; Christian Hahn and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Remember, your generous tips to our waiters come directly to Partners For Community Living in support of people with developmental disabilities.



Missing Annie

Annie at LN PicnicwebIt’s been only a few days since we said our last farewells to Annie and the sense of loss has not yet fully set in.  She was Annie Long and she was 53 when she died on March 9. Staff, who were members of her Choices family, had been by her side from the time she went into the hospital for surgery and through the time she was at hospice.

Some of  her Choices family had been by her side for as long as they can remember. One of her three Huntsview housemates, Rose, was one of those, someone who had been with her through the darkest of times for them both – through those haunting and terrible days at that foreboding and haunting place called Orient State Institution where the two of them found something good and lasting and hopeful even there because they found each other. They were sisters not bound by blood but bound by survival, perseverance, strength and joy in each other. They were children together at Orient and became teenagers there. They grew to the fullness of womanhood as members of our Choices family, living challenging, meaningful and full lives where they were afforded the dignity and respect lacking in that cold, dark place they had known as children.

They put the memories from that place behind them as they became two of the first people to come home to Choices In Community Living, becoming some of the first members of our extended family in 1985, the same year Choices was founded. They have been together through all the years that followed, through changes from home to home, with new housemates and new staff, but through it all they have been together. Until now.

Perhaps no one will feel Annie’s loss as much as Rose because of that unique history they shared, but the grieving has only begun  as well for those others who were Annie’s family all these years – her other housemates, Cheryl and Gisela – her staff at her Huntsview home, including Leah, Cindy, Cecilia, Asnakech and Toni. They knew her best and miss her most. They knew her for her love of country music and how “I Hope You Dance” touched her deepest spirit each time she heard it. They remember her singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the Choices Talent Show. They know how to describe her best. “She was Annie,” and that seems enough for them to say. “No one was better at being Annie than Annie. She was the best Annie. Once she got to know you and trust you, she would love you forever. That was part of her being Annie.  She was our family and her loss is immeasurable.”

It is immeasurable for her large extended family at Choices because more than anything we are family. We do what is necessary to make sure the ‘business’ of providing homes and services is taken care of, that documentation is in place, paperwork is filed, bills are paid, plans are developed and implemented but it is so much more than that. It is family. We know that at the end of day. We know it and feel it most profoundly and most deeply at the end of life. You don’t mourn the end of a business day. You mourn for as long as there are memories when a new day begins and Annie is no longer there.

We honor and thank the giving and generous people of the George C. Martin Funeral Home for being such an important part of helping us celebrate Annie’s life and guiding us so gently through that last farewell.

We also thank generous families and friends who have made donations to our Choices Wish List. While so many of your donations have provided clothing, furniture, recreation and so much more over the years for Annie and others we serve, it is in these final moments when your donations and your caring mean the most. We are so grateful there were Wish List funds available to assist us as we said our final farewells to our Annie.


Welcome Platinum Sponsor McGohan Brabender

MB_Logo_2014_webMcGohan Brabender has extended their support for people with developmental disabilities served by Partners For Community Living and our partner agencies, Choices In Community Living and Resident Home Association, by serving as a Platinum Sponsor for our 2014 Dining with the Stars celebrity waiter event on May 14 at Thai 9 Restaurant. They were a sponsor for our inaugural Dining with the Stars event in 2013.

A business leader in our community for 40 years, McGohan Brabender is one of the nation’s largest independent employee benefits brokers. Find out more about McGohan Brabender and the services they provide at



Adult Foster Care Families Needed

Choices In Community Living is accepting applications for Adult Foster Care individuals and/or families who would like to welcome an individual with a developmental disability into their homes and families. Adult Foster Care is one of the newest emerging services in a continuum of residential options available for people with developmental disabilities, one that encourages and supports them in making their own life choices.

What we need:

*caring individuals and/or families who are willing to share their homes and lives long-term with adults with developmental disabilities

*households with or without children

*households that can provide safe living environments with private sleeping space for the individual with a disability

What we provide:

*competitive, reliable stipend per day (paid monthly)

*10 paid vacation/respite days per year

*financial management for your fostered adult

*assistance and/or management of medical appointments

*training, certification and oversight

*reliable and responsive caseworker to support you and your fostered adult

*home study, placement and paperwork management (documentation)

Imagine the joy of creating a better life and great memories for your family and an individual who is looking for a home and family. Imagine the smiles you can create by helping someone grow and explore life. Imagine the fulfillment you can earn as you make a difference in the life of someone who has been waiting for you – someone who needs you.

For more information about our Foster Care program and how you can get involved, please contact Jenny Albright at 937-898-2220.


Website receives state recognition

Our Partners For Community Living website is the recipient of an Award of Excellence in the website category from Ohio Public Images. The statewide award was presented in formal ceremonies in Columbus on March 10, one of more than 25 awards recognizing organizations and individuals from across Ohio that promote positive perceptions and understanding of people with developmental disabilities.

Other local award recipients were Tom Archdeacon of the Dayton Daily News who received an Award of Excellence for his article “Amazing Grace” about a young athlete with a disability and Tim Pfister of the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services, who received an Award of Excellence in Public Relations.

More information about the Awards and about the work of Ohio Public Images, including their national efforts on behalf of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, please go to



County Board hosts carnival

The Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services invites you to join them for their first ever Winter Indoor Carnival and be a part of recognizing March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

The Carnival will be Saturday, March 8 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds Coliseum. Admission is $2.00, with children under three admitted free. There will be games, door prizes, food, music, bounce house, baked goods, dancing and guaranteed fun for the entire family.



Welcome Nan Whaley

Nan Headshot webWe welcome Nan Whaley, Mayor of the city of Dayton, as our newest celebrity waiter for our 2014 Dining with the Stars celebrity waiter event on Wednesday, May 14 at Thai 9 in the Oregon District. Be sure to contact us online or by calling 898-3655 or 278-0791 if you want to join us and have Mayor Whaley be your celebrity waiter.

We also are excited to announce that Norris Cole, #30 of the NBA’s Miami Heat, has donated an autographed pair of his basketball shoes for our raffle/auction that will be held as part of our Dining event. We thank Choices In Community Living staff member Pam White for assisting us in getting Norris’ donation.

We also thank Partners Joint Development Committee member Vivienne Himmell for helping us get a wonderful gift certificate for dinner at the Racquet Club and tickets to the Dayton Playhouse as part of our auction/raffle as well.

There will be more news to come so please follow us as we update you about our great community event at Thai 9.


Thank you friends

Thank you to all the smiling and supportive friends who joined us on February 28 for our Partners Fish ‘N Chips fish fry in Huber Heights. It was cold on the outside but it was so warm and welcoming on the inside!

We were honored by all our guests, all those who donated to our great and very popular raffle baskets, and all our very energetic and even more hard-working volunteers. We couldn’t do it without YOU!

This year’s proceeds, as in previous years, will support our shared Volunteer Program on behalf of the people served by Choices In Community Living and Resident Home Association.

See you at Fish ‘N Chips in 2015!


Sponsors support artists with disabilities

We welcome the Greene, Hamilton and Montgomery County Boards of Developmental Disabilities as platinum sponsors for our 7th Annual Art & Soul juried art exhibit, joining the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The judging is complete for this year’s Exhibit, with 40 pieces selected for the two-week Exhibit at the Town & Country Fine Arts Center in Kettering. The opening reception is Friday, April 4 at the Center, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. All artists will be recognized and awards will be presented in various categories, including Best of Show. Art will also be for sale during the reception and for the two weeks of the Exhibit. The reception is open to the public at no charge.

Art & Soul is a Partners For Community Living/Toward Independence event dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the artistic creativity and talents of artists with developmental disabilities in a 22-county region.